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Surgery is stressful for anyone, but thorough pre-surgery education can be extremely helpful when it comes to reducing stress and improving patient outcomes. When patients receive clear communication from their health care providers on what to do in the hours and days before surgery (and once the surgery is over), they typically have better post-surgery outcomes and report a higher level of satisfaction with the procedure – good news for patients and physicians alike.

Pre-surgery education may include instructions such as:

  • Not using tobacco products in the day(s) before surgery
  • Making childcare arrangements for during and after surgery
  • Having someone to drive you home and stay with you the day of surgery
  • Who to call in case of signs of illness or infection
  • Bandage/wound care
  • How to take any prescribed medications before and after surgery
  • What to bring to the hospital or surgery center (and what to leave at home)

Unfortunately, patients do not always receive the pre-surgery education they need. Many patients do not feel adequately prepared for the post-surgery experience. Too often, they don’t know what to expect or aren’t confident about post-surgery instructions. Since most patients do their best to follow post-surgery instructions, proper education can be the key to an optimal outcome.

Not only is inadequate education dangerous for patients, but it’s also dangerous for healthcare providers. If a patient is not familiar enough with post-surgery instructions, they may experience complications necessitating re-hospitalization costing them extra money and extra time away from work.

There are a number of ways in which healthcare providers can make improvements in patient education. For starters, putting more of an emphasis onproactive communication can make a big difference. Doctors, nurses, and other staff should be equipped with the knowledge and materials to educate patients properly. Using checklists is another effective way to make improvements and a simple way to reduce errors. Finally, communication should be tailored to each patient, as different patient groups understand and retain information in different ways.

The responsibility does not end with healthcare providers. Medical device manufacturers share the burden of patient education. Companies that make and distribute medical devices should do their part by making educational content readily available to providers and patients, ensuring that such content is easy to understand, and continually keeping such content up to date.

When healthcare providers take the time to educate patients well before procedures, the positive effects are clear. Healthcare providers looking for ways to optimize patient outcomes (and patient satisfaction) would do well to start with pre-surgery education.

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