Preparing for Your Surgery
As you get ready for surgery, you may have a lot of questions. You and your family are the most important members of your health care team. Do not be afraid to speak up and take an active role in your care. We encourage you to ask questions and learn all that you can about your surgery and recovery.
Getting Ready for Surgery
Several days before your surgery, you will be interviewed by a registered nurse from our assessment team. This is a confidential health history interview to identify specific things about you that help us plan ahead for your care. Please be prepared to tell us about your current medications, health conditions, allergies and other important health information. Our registered nurse will answer your questions and review any special instructions with you. For example, you may be asked to have diagnostic testing done, such as an EKG, blood draw or X-ray before the surgery. Be sure to ask about taking any of your current medications before surgery.
Lower Your Risk for Infection
- Before your surgery or procedure, shower three times using a 4% chlorahexidine gluconate wash ("Hibiclens") available at most drug stores. Skin bacteria are the most common cause of post-operative surgical wound infections. These showers should be taken within 48 hours of your scheduled surgery/procedure. Follow the product label instructions. Use clean towels to dry.
- Do not shave around your surgical area for at least two days prior to your surgery/procedure. Shaving will cause tiny nicks and cuts that increase your risk of infection.
- Stop smoking at least two weeks prior to your surgery/procedure. Smoking constricts your blood vessels and makes normal healing more difficult.
- Stay warm. Make sure you are warm when you come in for your surgery/procedure. Maintaining a warm body temperature lowers your chance for infection.
- If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar below 200 mg/dl. High blood sugar increases your risk for infection.
Several days before your surgery, you will receive a call from a member of our pre-arrival financial clearance team.
Your medical insurance may require that you pay a co-payment or deductible for this surgery/procedure. The amount depends on your insurance plan. Please plan to make this payment at the time your surgery/procedure is done. If you have questions regarding a co-payment or need financial assistance, please call Palomar Health Patient Financial Services at (760) 739-3309.
Day of Surgery
Preparing at Home
- Do not eat or drink anything except clear liquids after midnight the night before your surgery. Clear liquids include water, black coffee (no creamer), tea, apple juice, clear soda and other non-red juices you can see through.
- Leave valuables at home. Do not bring large amounts of money, jewelry or valuables, such as cell phones and laptops to the hospital. The staff cannot be help responsible for your valuables.
- Do not drink any liquids four hours before you arrive for surgery.
- Caregivers of pediatric and infant patients should ask their doctor for specific eating and drinking instructions.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
- Do not wear make-up, nail polish, contact lenses, watches or jewelry.
- Take medications ONLY as instructed by your doctor or pre-admission nurse the day of your surgery.
What to Bring
- Insurance and prescription cards
- A list of medications, including name, dose and how often you take each one
- Inhalers (if needed)
- Eye drops (if needed)
- Financial payment, if required by your insurance provider
- If you are being admitted to the hospital following your surgery, bring personal hygiene items, like a toothbrush and hair brush
- A copy of your Advance Directive (if available)
- A case to hold items, such as dentures or glasses
Surgery Schedule Time Changes
We do everything we can to assure schedule changes are not made, but time changes may occur. If we need to change the start time of your surgery procedure, you will be notified of the most updated schedule as soon as we know that your scheduled time has changed.
When you arrive, please proceed to Registration to begin your check-in process. It is important to arrive two hours before your scheduled surgery time in order to complete the following items prior to your surgery:
- Registration paperwork
- Clipping of any hair in the area of your surgery
- Starting an IV (intravenous) in your arm or hand to be used for medicine and/or fluids during and after surgery
Your family and friends may be able to join you in the surgical area while you are being prepared for surgery. During surgery, they may relax in the Surgery Waiting Area.
For Your Safety
You will be asked to sign a consent form confirming that you understand and agree to the surgery/procedure you are going to have. Before you sign, make sure you verify that your name, your doctor's name and the surgery/procedure being performed are correct. If there is anything you don't understand, or if you have any questions, please ask us.
Expect that we will ask your name and date of birth several times. Don't be alarmed. This is done for your safety. It ensures that everyone knows we have the correct patient for the correct surgery/procedure. Your doctor may place a mark on your body where the surgery/procedure is to be done.
Tell the anesthesiologist about all of your medications and supplements/vitamins you are taking. Talk about any medical conditions you may have, including diabetes or high blood sugar. Let the anesthesiologist know about any past experiences you may have had with anesthesia.
Download our Preparing for Heart Surgery Guide.