Next Avenue Logo
Advertisement

Avoiding and Treating Injuries as You Age

What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor Before Orthopedic Surgery?

Here are several questions to help you prepare for your upcoming procedure

By Sheryl Stillman
An illustration of an older adult asking their doctor questions about orthopedic surgery. Next Avenue
Credit: Getty

Are you planning on having orthopedic surgery? During stressful conversations with a physician, it's easy to forget even the most basic question. Bringing a list of questions to your upcoming appointment can help you feel more in control.

What should I expect to happen right after surgery - and during the first couple of days?

More importantly, says Dr. Andrew Grose, an orthopedic trauma surgeon at HSS Stamford in Stamford, Conn., "Patient education is a crucial component to a healthy recovery."

Many hospitals and surgery centers educate patients and caregivers on what to expect before, during and after an operation.

But it's also important that you take the time to prepare and think through everything you want to know about and plan for in advance of the surgery.

Do Your Homework, Ask Lots of Questions

Before your scheduled appointment, keep track of your pain history to share with your health care provider. Having a complete and accurate report can assist your doctor in understanding the whole picture associated with your condition.

Information to include in your pain history:

  • When did the pain start?
  • Where is the pain (include all locations)?
  • What makes it worse?
  • What makes it better?
  • What have you tried that has been effective?
  • What hasn’t been effective?

Diagnosis-related questions to ask

  • What’s the diagnosis?
  • What’s the expected outcome? And what, if any, are the potential side effects?
  • What are the risks or specific complications of treatment?
  • Will this affect other areas of my body?
  • What can I do to prevent this from getting worse? Or coming back again?

Pre-surgery-related questions to ask:

  • What type(s) of “prehabilitation” services do you offer? Are there exercises I should be doing now (or avoiding), even if painful?
  • What can I expect in terms of patient education? And when? 
  • Will I need dental care before my operation? (According to the Mayo Clinic, a dental exam at least four weeks ahead of certain surgeries is necessary to rule out any dental abscesses, dental infection or gum disease.)

Surgery-related questions to ask:

  • What are my non-surgical and surgical options?
  • How many times have you performed this operation?
  • What happens if I want a second or third opinion?
  • How long is the procedure?
  • Will the procedure be done inpatient or outpatient? If inpatient, how long will I be in the hospital?

Tip: The 72-hour observation policy

Ask your doctor about whether a 72-hour observation policy is available at their hospital or clinic setting. That means even though the surgery will be performed on an "outpatient" basis, if deemed medically necessary, you can remain there for up to 72 hours before being sent home or to a rehabilitation facility. 

Post-surgery related questions to ask:

  • What medications, including painkillers, will be prescribed?
  • Can I call in the prescription ahead of surgery so I have it upon returning home?
  • Do any of these medications, alone or together, increase a risk for falling?
  • What should I expect to happen right after surgery — and during the first couple of days?
  • If I need to be seen after I am sent home, which hospital’s Emergency Room should I go to? (Find out where your physician has hospital admitting privileges in case of an emergency.)
  • What type of post-surgery care will I require (wound care, medications, bathing, etc.)?
  • What resources, including skilled nursing facilities or caregivers, are available to me?
  • What does physical therapy look like after surgery?
  • How long until a full recovery?
  • When can I expect to drive again?
  • How do I apply for a handicapped parking permit so I'll have it when needed?
  • How soon can I return to work after surgery?
Advertisement

Communication-related questions to ask:

  • How can I get in touch with you or your staff if I need something before or after surgery?
  • How can I get in touch with you or your staff on the weekends?

Questions about the costs

What's covered by insurance? When discussing the costs of services and types of co-payments, be sure to ask about ancillary charges as well. Ancillary services and/or supplies are expenses not directly offered by your health care provider or covered as part of room and board in a hospital setting.

Examples include: ambulance, anesthesiologist, laboratory services, therapy, as well as durable medical equipment such as hospital beds, walkers or oxygen equipment. 

Sheryl Stillman
Sheryl Stillman is a writer, professional coach, and change-management consultant focusing on helping older adults live their best lives. Learn more at Sherylonline.com. Read More

You Are Reading

What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor Before Orthopedic Surgery?
Here are several questions to help you prepare for your upcoming procedure

Next Avenue LogoMeeting the needs and unleashing the potential of older Americans through media
©2022 Next AvenuePrivacy PolicyTerms of Use
A nonprofit journalism website produced by:
TPT Logo