Orthopaedic patient checklist

Patient safety means patients first. Safety is a priority for your orthopaedic surgeon and the other health care professionals involved in your treatment and care. In fact, everyone involved—including you—has a role in ensuring that your medical care is safe and effective.

Before surgery

During the consultation with your orthopaedic surgeon

Make sure your orthopaedic surgeon knows everything about, or has access to:

  • The details of your orthopaedic injury or condition including when it occurred or began, how it bothers you and what treatments you have tried, if any.
  • Your full medical history, including your past and current medical problems and how they have been and are being treated.
  • Your family and personal history, including a list of diseases or health conditions that affect you or your immediate family, including depression, sleep apnea, blood clots, or any problems that arose during surgery or following anesthesia.
  • Current medications─including over-the-counter medications or diet supplements you take on a regular basis─such as aspirin, blood thinners, insulin, blood pressure medications, steroids, multivitamins, and supplements including St. John’s Wort and Ginkgo Biloba.
  • Medication, food and environmental allergies and sensitivities. Tell your surgeon if you have ever had an allergic reaction such as a rash, swelling or difficulty breathing. Also include any foods or medications that you are sensitive to, even if you are not allergic to these substances.
  • X-rays, images, operative notes and lab tests pertaining to the injury or conditions.
  • Whether or not you smoke. Because smokers have more frequent surgical complications and longer healing times, talk to your doctor about starting a smoking cessation program prior to surgery.
  • Your doctor will review, discuss and then ask you to sign a consent form that clearly outlines the planned surgical procedure.

Ask questions:

  • Are there alternatives to surgery?
  • Is the surgical procedure a cure or a treatment?
  • What are the risks of the surgery?
  • What kind of incision will the surgery require?
  • How will this affect my care management?
  • How will I manage my pain?
  • Will non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and other common over-the-counter pain medications, be sufficient, or will I require a more powerful medication, such as an opioid?
  • How long will I need medication to manage my pain?
  • Can I fill any prescriptions prior to surgery so I have them available when I return home?
  • How will I manage my condition after the surgery?
  • Will I need physical therapy, and if so, for how long?
  • What supplements and medications should I stop taking, if any, and when (prior to surgery, day of surgery)?
  • What should I expect in terms of the time it will take me to recover, and my ability to perform daily tasks?
  • When can I return to work, drive a car, lift/care for my children, or return to my favorite sporting activity?
  • Read an expanded list of pre-surgical questions.

Prepare for your home recovery:

  • If necessary, purchase, obtain and install assistive devices, such as a walker, crutches, shower stool or bathroom railings.
  • Secure and schedule family or other assistance.
  • Address any work, child care, financial or other domestic issues to give you peace of mind during recovery.

At the hospital on the day of surgery

Bring to the hospital:

  • A list of your drug and food allergies and sensitivities.
  • Your insurance cards.
  • Copies of any legal documents, including medical proxy, power of attorney or a living will.
  • The name and phone number of your primary contact while you are in surgery or, if you are having same-day surgery, the name and phone number of the person who will be picking you up.
  • A small amount of cash but no valuable items or jewelry.
  • Little else.  Most hospitals provide nearly everything you need including toothbrushes, bed clothes and slippers. Men may prefer their own razor; women, their cosmetics.  Please do not bring perfume or cologne.
  • At the hospital you will receive an identification (ID) band. Hospitals may have two patients with the same name, but your number is unique to you. If the band comes off, be sure to tell someone so it can be quickly replaced.

Immediately before anesthesia and surgery

Before surgery, your doctor and health care team will ask you many questions. Some questions─such as those pertaining to drug allergies and identification of the surgical site─may be asked several times. This repetition is planned and you should expect these questions from your health care team.  The questions may include:

  • Do you have diabetes and take diabetic medications?
  • Do you take any blood thinners?
  • Do you or any member of your family have a history of problems with surgery, such as adverse reactions to anesthesia, or problems with medications?
  • Your doctor will confirm the surgical site with you and then mark the correct area on your skin.
  • Give your cell phone, reading glasses, hearing aids and other personal items to a friend or family member before you go into the operating room. These items can be returned to you when you are awake and recovering.
  • Before the induction of anesthesia and before the skin incision, your health care team will again confirm your identity, condition and the incision site.

Sources include: OrthoInfo.org and Joint Commission Universal Protocol.