Five ways to better prepare for planned or elective surgery

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What's a tried-and-true way to prepare for surgery and anesthesia? By paying close attention to the healthcare professionals who will be delivering your care and providing them with essential information about your health status, history, and habits.

During National Public Health Week (April 3-9, 2017), which among other things celebrates the power of prevention, the nation's 50,000+ Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) offer patients five ways they can become better prepared for a planned or elective surgery.

Work with your surgeon and CRNA to optimize your health before surgery. It is important to stop using all but necessary, approved prescriptions prior to a surgical procedure to avoid complications and increase your odds of a safe outcome. If you have had or currently have a substance use disorder, it is crucial that you inform your CRNA. Anesthesia professionals need to know this information to consider possible drug interactions that could impact your safety during and after surgery.

Stop alternative and complementary medicine use at least two weeks prior to surgery to prevent possible side effects. Some herbal medicines can create unsafe complications during and after surgical procedures, such as dangerously high or low blood pressure.

Be knowledgeable about:
Your family medical history. Are there any complications that are prevalent in your family, such as malignant hyperthermia or reactions to certain types of anesthesia, that your CRNA should know about?
Surgical procedures you have undergone. Let your CRNA know if you have ever had a reaction to an anesthetic drug, such as nausea and/or vomiting. Your anesthesia professional can take extra precautions to hopefully prevent this from occurring.

Talk to a CRNA about any existing medical conditions. If you suffer from diabetes, asthma, allergies to medicines or to latex, or any other health concerns, be sure to share this information prior to your surgery.

Learn about the types of anesthesia and which one(s) will be used for your surgery. What are the potential side effects to be particularly aware of, or that might signal the need to get in touch with your primary care physician, surgeon or CRNA afterward? Knowing this information before surgery will allow you to be prepared should you experience any side effects.

Above all, be honest with your surgeon and CRNA so they can provide the best surgical and anesthesia experience possible and advocate for you throughout your surgery.

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