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Patient Surgery Guide

The Days and Weeks Before Your Surgery

Preparing for Surgery -- The Days and Weeks Before Surgery

Getting ready for surgery is very important for your health and recovery. Follow the instructions in this section for actions to take in the days and weeks before surgery. Contact your healthcare team if you have any questions about this information.

Appointments and Tests Before Surgery
Patient Medical History for Anesthesia
Medical Problems
Follow Instructions from Your Doctor and Your Anesthesiologist
Advance Directive
Insurance and Your Surgery
Patient Financial Services
Healthy Food and Liquids
Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs

Appointments and Tests Before Surgery

Your doctor may want you to have more tests or see an anesthesiologist or other doctors before your surgery.

Go to all pre-surgery appointments your doctor sets up for you. If you do not go to these appointments, your surgery may be cancelled.

If you need to have any lab work or other tests done before surgery, these must be done at least one week before surgery or your surgery may need to be rescheduled. Contact your doctor’s office for information about where to send test results or bring copies of your tests with you on the day of your surgery.

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Patient Medical History for Anesthesia

It is important that your doctor and anesthesia team know about all of your medical history.

Fill out the Patient Medical History for Anesthesia found in your My Surgery Folder. You will give this to your anesthesia team before or on the morning of your surgery.

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Medical Problems

Tell your doctor and anesthesiologist about any allergies or medical problems you have, including other infections. Health problems such as allergies, diabetes, and obesity could affect your surgery and treatment.

Talk to your doctor or anesthesiologist at least one week before surgery about any medications you take including:

  • How much you take
  • How often you take them
  • When you take them
  • Any medication you stopped taking and when you stopped taking it.

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Follow Instructions From Your Doctor and Your Anesthesiologist

Your doctors may need to make changes to your medication for the weeks or days before surgery and on the day of surgery.

Talk to your doctor about your medications.

  • It is possible your surgery may have to be cancelled if your doctor does not know all your medications.
  • Ask your doctor when to take medications for diabetes, hypertension, and pain or for your heart, lungs or eyes before surgery.
  • If are told to take your morning medications on the day of surgery, drink only as much water as you need to take them.
  • If you have lost your medication instructions call 773-834-7255.
  • Get any prescriptions filled before surgery that you will need to take after your surgery. Then, you can begin taking them as soon as you get home.

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Advance Directive

You always have the right to choose what you want done with your healthcare. This includes your right to say no to any treatment offered to you.

You can create what is called an "advance directive," such as a living will or durable power of attorney for healthcare.

An advance directive tells us what you want done in the future in case something happens and you cannot speak for yourself.

If you have an advance directive, please bring a copy with you at the time of surgery. If you do not have an advance directive and wish to create one, you can call Social Work at 773-702-6243 in advance and ask them for help.

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Insurance and Your Surgery

At the University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) we know how difficult it can be planning for the cost of going to the hospital and paying for a doctor visit or for surgery. This information is provided to help you plan for any cost you may have.

All insurance plans are different. You should contact your insurance company with questions about your coverage. This will help you know what your insurance will pay for and what you may have to pay on your own.

Some insurance plans may want you to have written permission before you have surgery. Learn more about this by calling your insurance company’s customer service phone number. This phone number may be on the back of your insurance card.

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For Questions Call Patient Financial Services or Visit Our Websites

Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Phone Number: 773-702-6664

You can also visit our websites:
Patient Financial Responsibilities
Accepted Insurance Plans
Patient Billing
Financial Assistance

The University of Chicago Medicine is committed to giving quality care to all of our patients.

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Healthy Food and Liquids

Eat healthy food in the weeks and days before your surgery. Medical research shows that you can get better surgery results if your nutrition is at its best. Include food with quality protein such as beans, lentils, tofu, chicken, seafood and dairy products. Protein is important and helps your body to heal after surgery.

Most patients must limit what they eat and drink beginning the day before surgery. Read more about this in Section 4: The Day Before Surgery.

Follow the food and drink instructions in your My Surgery Folder for specific directions from your doctor. If you are not sure what foods or liquids you can or cannot have call the Anesthesia Department at 773-834-7255.

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Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs

Do not smoke before your surgery. Stop smoking at least two weeks before surgery. Smoking increases your risk of heart and breathing problems. Patients who smoke have a higher risk of getting an infection. Smoking can cause you to have more nausea, that feeling of wanting to vomit. Smoking can also cause your wound to take more time to heal. Ask your doctor if you need help to stop smoking.

Do not drink alcoholic drinks 24 hours before your surgery.

Drugs and alcohol can cause problems with your anesthesia and surgery. It is very important not to take them within 24 hours of your surgery.

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