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Preparing for Your Surgery or Procedure

Please note: Your surgeon’s office may provide you with other materials with instructions. If any instructions in these materials differ from the information provided here, the instructions in the other materials should take priority.

Getting Ready for Surgery


Insurance companies differ in their requirements for surgery authorization. Please contact your insurance company to notify them of your upcoming surgery. Ask how to best proceed in obtaining authorization and how much of the cost will be covered. If you require any assistance, please call (773) 702-6000 for information about inpatient surgery or (773) 702-3384 for information about outpatient surgery.

Pre-Surgical Appointments

Be sure to go to any pre-surgery appointments your surgeon sets up for you. If you fail to show up for these appointments, your surgery may be cancelled.

Pain Management

Before your surgery, be sure to discuss with your surgeon how any pain you may experience as a result of your surgery will be controlled.

Creating an Advance Directive

DCAM from under Mitchell pavilion

You have the right to make informed decisions about your healthcare, including the right to refuse treatment offered to you. You may also give directions, in advance, about your wishes for healthcare should the time come when you cannot communicate your wishes to others.

If you have an advance directive, such as a living will or durable power of attorney for healthcare, please it with you at the time of surgery. If you do not have an advance directive and wish to create one, please call Social Work and Pastoral Care at (773) 702-6243 in advance and ask them for help.

» Read more about advance directives and download forms

If you are being hospitalized prior to your surgery and wish to create an advance directive while you are here, look for the booklet Planning for Your Medical Care in your admissions packet when you arrive. If you do not receive this booklet in your admissions packet, please contact Admission Services at (773) 702-6233 and ask them to send it to you. To obtain help in creating an advance directive with this booklet, please call Social Work or Pastoral Care. A trained professional from either of these departments can talk you through your options and witness your advance directive for you.

Learn About Your Surgery

The University of Chicago Medicine encourage you to take an active role in your own care. We’re pleased to offer Emmi, a series of interactive, online, educational programs that make complex healthcare information easy to understand. We offer Emmi programs for many surgical procedures to help educate you on what to expect before, during and after your surgery.

Emmi programs are web-based. You may view them at your own pace as many times as you wish in the comfort of your own home. You may also share your program with friends and loved ones anywhere in the world. If an Emmi program is right for you, your physician will provide you with an access code to view your program.

Important Pre-Surgery Instructions

Before your surgery, your surgeon will give you instructions concerning food and liquids. It is very important that you follow these directions, so the surgery or procedure may proceed as planned.

Do not drink alcoholic beverages 24 hours prior to surgery. It is never a good idea to smoke, but it is especially important that you do not smoke after midnight prior to having surgery. Smoking can cause gastric secretions that interfere with the anesthetic you take to go to sleep during surgery. It is also a good idea not to smoke after surgery as it can impede healing. It is never a good idea to take illegal drugs, but it is vitally important not to take them within 24 hours of your surgery.

Several weeks before your surgery, ask your surgeon if you should stop taking:

  • Medications that contain aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Aleve (naproxen), ibuprofen or Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Anticoagulants such as Coumadin, Plavix, Lovenox, and Heparin
  • Allergy medications
  • Herbs and vitamins
  • Birth control pills

Here are some other pre-surgery instructions you need to follow:

  • Bring a written list of the medications you are taking, as well as the dosages and frequency with which you take these medications.
  • Shower or bathe no more than 12 hours prior to your surgery using an antimicrobial soap. If your physician instructed you to use disposable wipes or a special soap, please do so according to those instructions.
  • If possible, obtain prescriptions for post-operative medications before surgery, have them filled, and begin taking them as soon you get home.
  • If you are having outpatient surgery, ask your surgeon's office whether you should make your postoperative appointments before your surgery or right after your surgery.
  • If you are being admitted to the hospital after surgery, make your postoperative appointments at the time you are discharged.
  • If you develop a cold, fever or other illness prior to your procedure, contact your surgeon's office. Your surgery may need to be rescheduled.
  • Arrange to have a responsible adult accompany you the day of surgery, remain in the hospital during your surgery, and, if you are an outpatient, take you home after your surgery. If you are an inpatient, arrange to have a responsible adult take you home when you are discharged.
  • Have the responsible adult who accompanies you hold on to your valuables such as eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids, money, credit card and jewelry while you are in surgery.

To assist those in imminent danger and immediate need, we may need to delay or even cancel your surgery. In such an event, we will appreciate your understanding.

Pre-Surgery Checklist
We encourage you to complete this checklist before leaving home:

  • No jewelry is being worn
  • A responsible adult is accompanying you and a ride home has been arranged
  • Instructions for not eating/drinking have been followed
  • Special wipes or soaps have been used to cleanse site of surgery (if instructed by surgeon)
  • Bring a copy of your durable power of attorney for healthcare or living will if you have one

When You Come for Surgery

Directions and Parking

Get recommend driving directions and learn about parking options, locations, rates and discounts at the University of Chicago Medicine. Or, plan your route via public transportation.

» Driving Directions
» Parking
» Public Transportation

Entering the Medical Campus

Surgeon in surgery

Center for Care and Discovery: Enter through the hospital’s west entrance at 5700 South Maryland Avenue. The entrance is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Take the elevator from the ground level up to the seventh floor Sky Lobby.

Bernard A. Mitchell Hospital: Enter through the hospital’s main entrance on Maryland Avenue across from the parking garage. Doors to the hospital are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Take the elevator from the ground level up to the lobby on the second floor. If you self-park in the garage, you may walk through the enclosed pedestrian bridge which links the garage "bridge level" floor to the second floor of Mitchell Hospital.

NOTE: The walk from the Mitchell Hospital entrance to the surgery check-in-point is more than 1/4 mile. For wheelchair assistance, ask the valet attendant.

Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine: Enter the DCAM through the main entrance on 58th Street by the circle driveway. A curbside attendant can provide a wheelchair if you need one. If you park in the garage, you may prefer to walk through the enclosed pedestrian bridge, which links the "bridge level" of the garage with the second floor of the DCAM.

Checking in at the University of Chicago Medicine

Center for Care and Discovery: Enter the hospital through the west entrance and take the elevators to the seventh floor Sky Lobby. Once there, you will be directed to the Patient Registration Desk, where you will receive all necessary information regarding your stay and care.

Bernard A. Mitchell Hospital: For pre-surgical admission, please stop at the Information Desk at the Bernard Mitchell Hospital entrance for directions to Admission Services or the Surgery Waiting Room. You will need to register at Admission Services (room TS-200), located off the second floor lobby, or in the Surgery Waiting Room (P-211). The Surgery Waiting Room is open Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine: On the day of surgery at the DCAM, please go directly to 2C. The DCAM 2C waiting room is open Monday to Friday, from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Planning Ahead for Your Discharge from the Hospital

Most of our patients are able to return home after discharge. Some, however, may require help at home or need to be transferred to another facility, such as a physical rehabilitation center or skilled nursing facility. Your care team will review your needs while you are in the hospital to make sure that you are safe and well enough to be discharged. It is important that you tell your doctor or nurse of any concerns you have about your discharge. The more you and your family are involved in planning for your discharge, the more ready you will be when it is time for you to leave the hospital.

If you have questions about discharge plans before you come into the hospital, ask your doctor or call the Social Work Department at (773) 702-1807 or the Case Management Department at (773) 795-5500. Once you are in the hospital, tell your nurse or any other member of your care team that you would like to speak to a social worker or a case manager about your discharge.

Family Waiting Areas

Center for Care and Discovery: The Center for Care and Discovery waiting areas are on the seventh floor in the Sky Lobby.

Bernard A. Mitchell Hospital: The Mitchell Surgery Waiting Room is in P-211 (773) 702-6545

Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine: The DCAM Surgery Waiting Room is in 2C (773) 702-3131

Progress Updates
Our goal in the surgery waiting rooms is to keep your family and friends updated on the status of your surgery. Please ask your family to tell the attendant in the waiting area where they will be waiting, so the surgeon or nurse can give them information on your status during and after your surgery. Pagers are available to them should they need to leave the waiting area for an extended period of time.

Food and drink are not allowed in the waiting areas. However, there are a variety of food options at the University of Chicago Medicine. Your family can ask the receptionist for the nearest locations of snack bars and cafeterias and restaurants.

Internet Access
Free wireless Internet access is available throughout the medical campus. Internet workstations are located in the Center for Care and Discovery Sky Lobby Business Center and in the Mitchell Hospital and DCAM waiting rooms.

» Read more about wireless Internet access on our medical campus

Privacy Issues

Due to patient privacy regulations, our staff cannot release any information about you to your family and friends without your permission. When you are being admitted for surgery, a staff member will write down your access code on a blue, business-size card. Give this access code to the people you want to be able to obtain information about you. Family members who have your access code and are waiting in one of our waiting areas will be given information in person as soon as possible; and they may, if they wish, telephone family members outside the hospital. Staff cannot give patient information over the telephone until you are in your room.

After Your Surgery or Procedure

Your surgeon will provide you with instructions to follow at home. Please follow them carefully to assure a smooth recovery. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Never drive an automobile, operate dangerous machinery, or undertake any responsible business matters on the same day as your surgery or procedure.
  • You will be able to shower but not bathe. If you have drains or open wounds, you may need to take sponge baths initially.
  • You should avoid any heavy lifting. Your surgeon's office can provide a weight limit.
  • You will be assigned exercises designed to speed your recovery.

Notify your surgeon's office immediately if you experience any bleeding or drainage from the operative site, have unusual redness or pain, or start running a temperature higher than 101°. Be on the lookout for other "danger signals" to which your surgeon may alert you.

Your surgeon or nurse will schedule a return visit to the outpatient clinic so they can check your progress after surgery and confirm that you are healing well. Arrange to have a responsible adult escort you to your first post-op visit.

Survey reminder

We Appreciate Your Feedback

All of us here at the University of Chicago Medicine appreciate your trust in us and will do everything possible to assure you receive the top quality care and courteous treatment you expect. We welcome your comments. Please ask any staff member for a comment card. If you receive a patient satisfaction survey in the mail, please be sure to fill it out and send it back to us.

More Information

Call Us

If you have questions, call your surgeon’s office on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

On weekends and after business hours, call (773) 702-6800 and ask the operator to page the physician on call.