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Preparing for a Surgical Procedure

At Home

The evening before your admission

There are a few things you need to do the evening before your admission to the hospital. Don't put this off until the morning of your admission. Just take some relaxed quiet time the evening before admission to get your belongings together at a leisurely, comfortable pace. 

What to bring with you to the hospital:

  • Robe, slippers and personal toiletries such as toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, hand lotion, etc., if you will be staying overnight with us.
  • Loose, comfortable clothing for the day of your discharge.  Clothing that will fit over a cast or splint (if needed) is a good idea.
  • Insurance cards and a form of identification featuring a photograph
  • Any forms such as questionnaires, physicals, testing results, or consents.The completed pre-operative anesthesia questionnaire is an important example.
  • Prescription cards
  • A list of your medications and the last time/date you took them.
  • If you use a CPAP or BiPAP machine at home, please bring it with you to the hospital and give it to your Pre-Op nurse. We need to know your normal settings in case it's needed in recovery.
  • A copy of your Advance Directives. These may be written healthcare instructions, a Living Will, or Durable Power of Attorney. Learn more about these documents
It is important to bring your insurance cards with you.
If you do not have insurance, an FMH Financial Counselor is here to help. They will contact you prior to your surgical procedure.

What you should leave at home:

Money and Valuables
We strongly recommend that you bring only a minimum amount of cash with you to the hospital, and that you leave all other valuable items at home. If it is necessary to bring valuables with you, the Cashier's Office can store smaller items in the hospital safe. When you arrive for admission, notify your admissions nurse and arrangements will be made to place your items in the safe.

FMH is not responsible for money or valuables kept in your room.
Please do not bring any of the following with you to the hospital
  • Rings
  • Watches
  • Bracelets
  • Necklaces
  • Keepsakes

Important Reminders:

Food and Liquid Consumption:
after midnight before your surgery unless otherwise instructed by your physician. Do NOT chew gum OR suck on a piece of candy. The only exception would be a sip of water if you are instructed to take your medications. Eating solid foods or drinking even a small amount of liquid could cause your operation to be postponed.
If you are taking any medication, ask your physician in advance if you should take your medicine the morning of your surgery. Contact your doctor for advice if you are taking any blood thinners, aspirin or anti-inflammatory medication.
or limit your smoking for a few days before surgery, and do not smoke after midnight the day before surgery.
Alcohol Consumption:
Drink no alcoholic beverages 24 hours before surgery.

If you develop a cold, fever, or other health problem within 48 hours of your scheduled admission, please call and inform your physician.
Pediatric Surgery:
Children must have at least one parent present in the hospital during surgery.
If your doctor has prescribed crutches, please bring them with you to the hospital.

If you have any questions, call your doctor's office, Pre-Admission Screening at 240-566-3918 or Perioperative Services at 240-566-3756.

The morning of your admission for surgery . . .

We recommend that you shower or bathe with an antibacterial soap the morning of your surgery, since you may not be able to bathe for several days following your procedure. Follow the food and liquid restriction described above. Be sure you do not swallow any water when brushing your teeth.

Leave your valuables at home, including any jewelry. No jewelry may be worn during surgery.

Remove nail polish from at least one finger, preferably your index finger. You do not need to remove artificial nails.
Dentures, glasses and contact lenses usually need to be removed before surgery. Please bring containers and solutions for contacts or an eyeglass case if you have one.
Patients admitted the morning of surgery should arrive at the hospital two hours before the scheduled procedure (or as directed by your physician).  A complimentary parking valet service is available for your convenience.

Pre-operative staging . . .

From the Admitting Department you will be escorted or transported to our Pre-Operative staging area.
There will be more registration paperwork to be done, but at this stage of the process the information becomes medically specific to you and your case.
As beds become available in the staging area, you will be escorted back to a cubicle where you will remove your clothes, get into a hospital gown, and get comfortable on the stretcher.  Because it is so important that some of your vital medical information be communicated directly to members of your surgical team, a registered nurse and an anesthesiologist who will be members of your team will review your health information with you immediately prior to your operation.

Additional Prep

  • If appropriate, you may be asked to mark your surgical site.
  • You will be asked to remove hearing aides, glasses, contact lenses, jewelry, or any prosthetic devices.
  • You will also be asked to remove partial plates or false teeth.
  • An intravenous (IV) solution may be started just before, or after, you arrive in the Surgical Suite. This IV is necessary to provide your body with fluids and to make it easier to administer anesthesia.  Some procedures - those that require only a local anesthetic - may not necessitate an IV. 
  • Although you have been told the approximate time of your operation, unexpected delays sometimes occur. If this happens, your nurse will keep you informed.
  • The family member or friend who has escorted you to the hospital will be directed to a waiting area and will be informed of your progress during surgery by a Surgical Information Volunteer.

In the operating room . . .

You will be wheeled into the surgical suite on your stretcher.The surgical team will help you transfer from your stretcher to the operating table. It will be hard and cold - but not for long.


You will receive either general, regional, Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC), a spinal/epidural, or local anesthesia
  • General Anesthesia: You will be unconscious throughout the operation
  • Regional Anesthesia: The area of your body undergoing surgery, such as your foot or arm, is anesthetized by an injection administered by the anesthesiologist or surgeon.
  • Monitored Anesthesia Care: Local anesthesia is administered by your surgeon. An anesthesiologist is also present and provides administration of intravenous sedation, as needed, and monitors your vital signs.
  • Spinal/Epidural Anesthesia: You will be helped into a position for ease in administering the anesthesia into the lower back area. As the anesthesia takes effect, there will be loss of sensatin, then movement, below the waist area. The anesthesiologist may also provide intravenous medication to relax you during the procedure.
When you open your eyes - your procedure will be over - and you will be in the recovery room.

Recovery . . .

If you have been given a general or regional anesthetic, you will be taken to the PACU - Post Anesthesia Care Unit - immediately after surgery  As you wake up, noises may seem loud, and you may experience some blurring of vision, dryness of the mouth, sore throat, drowsiness, nausea, or chills. If you feel cold, ask your nurse for a blanket. Skilled nurses will provide complete care after surgery and anesthesia. Your blood pressure, breathing, pulse and heart rhythm will be monitored along with the oxygen level of your blood.
PACU staff will ask you to perform deep breathing and coughing exercises to help clear your lungs. It is important to take an active role in your recovery. The initial recovery phase typically lasts approximately 1 - 3 hours. Your recovery room stay may be longer based on anesthesia and surgical effects. 

To your hospital room . . .

When your physician and anesthesiologist have determined it's time for you to be taken to your room in the hospital, they will release you from PACU. Once you are in your room you will be made as comfortable as possible and permitted to sleep and rest. Your family members will reunite with you in your room.
Recovery from surgery is an active, participatory process.  It is absolutely essential that nurses, technicians and support personnel monitor your condition and progress around the clock. Your sleep will be disturbed, and some of the activities required of you are not particularly pleasant. Recovery from surgery is not a passive exercise but requires you to work hard. We will work with you and support you through the process, but no one can get you back on your feet but you. YOU are the most important member of the healthcare team.  Here are some recovery activities that you can expect
  • After surgery you will be asked to sit up or even walk
  • You will have to go to the bathroom if you are not catheterized
  • Nurses will be in to take your vital signs: Temperature, Pulse, Respirations, Blood Pressure
  • Technicians will be into your room to draw blood samples, and help you with breathing exercises
  • Physical Therapists will be in to help you with mobility and range of motion exercises
  • Transporter will be in to take you for X-rays and other important studies
Please remember that ALL of these interactions have been ordered by your physician.   It is the responsibility of every member of the healthcare team to diligently execute those orders to the best of their abilities, and they will do so; day and night and every hour in between.
The hospital offers a number of services and amenities specifically designed to make your stay with us as pleasant as possible. To find out more about what is available to you as a patient at FMH, take a look at our Patient Accommodations.


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