Preparing for Surgery

Preparing for Surgery

Information your provider needs to know about before your surgery

  • Any illness you have, including sore throat, flu and elevated temperature, or if you’ve been exposed to a contagious disease.
  • Changes to your skin, especially near the incision site, including cuts, scratches, insect bites, rashes and poison ivy.
  • Any medications you take daily, including prescriptions, aspirin, blood thinners, insulin and arthritis medications.

If you have diabetes and/or an insulin pump, you’ll need to discuss day-of-surgery instructions with the provider who manages your diabetes.

Information about going home that you need to know before your surgery

  • For your personal safety, you won’t be allowed to drive or take a taxi, Uber® or Lyft® home alone following your surgery. Please make arrangements for a responsible adult to drive you or accompany you home in a taxi, Uber or Lyft. That person should remain in the surgery waiting room during your surgery so they can receive timely updates about your status, including discharge or admission information.
  • Your ride should be available to take you home immediately after your discharge.
  • For your safety, arrange for someone to stay with you for 24 hours after surgery. Your surgery may be canceled if no one’s available to stay with you.
  • If you’re having surgery on your knee or foot, it’s very important to ask your provider if you’ll need crutches after your operation. This needs to be addressed before the day of your surgery.

Advance directives

For your own peace of mind, we encourage the completion of advance directives, which outline your wishes for life-sustaining treatments, and include a living will and durable power of attorney (DPA) for healthcare. Please bring a completed copy to be included in your medical record. If you have questions or need further assistance, please call 772.345.5385.

Understanding your surgery

Make sure you understand what will happen before, during and after your surgery. Research has shown that patients who are informed can better work with their providers to make the right decisions. Together, you and your provider should review the possible benefits and risks involved in the surgery you’re scheduled for.

Day before your surgery

For your safety, please:

  • Don’t drink alcoholic beverages or use any recreational substances for 24 hours before your surgery. Alcohol/recreational substances may cause an undesired reaction when mixed with anesthesia or other drugs. If you appear under the influence of alcohol or recreational substances, your surgery may be canceled.
  • Don’t smoke before or after your surgery. Smoking may cause problems with anesthesia and increase carbon monoxide in your blood stream. Nicotine also interferes with healing.
  • Don’t eat after midnight the night before your surgery unless your provider allows you to.
  • If applicable, complete any pre-operative prep as instructed by your provider.
  • Practice coughing and deep breathing exercises and pain management techniques.

You can drink clear liquids up to two hours before your instructed arrival time.

Pre-surgical Testing

Pre-surgical Testing

Your provider may determine, based on your health history, that you need pre-surgical testing. You’ll be called to schedule the appointment and we’ll tell you which tests you may need before your surgery. If you need to cancel or reschedule, call your provider’s office.

On the day of your pre-surgical testing office visit, take all prescribed medications as you normally would. You can also eat and drink the morning of this visit. 

A registered nurse will call you within 24 hours of your surgery date to go over important information with you, including:

  • Your health history.
  • Medications.
  • Preoperative instructions.

If you’re unavailable at the time of the call, please return the call to 772.345.5385, Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Day of Your Surgery

Day of Your Surgery

What to bring with you

  • Your driver’s license or a photo ID, as well as your insurance card and prescription pharmacy card.
  • Inhalers, if you use them.
  • A CPAP or BiPAP® machine, if you use either.
  • Your glasses and glass case.
  • Don’t bring any valuables (cash, checks, credit cards, cell phones, jewelry, etc.) with you.

The morning of your surgery

  • Continue to take all your scheduled medications, as instructed, with only a sip of water. You may take prescribed pain medication, if needed. If you have any questions, please ask your provider for additional instructions.
  • Perform your normal morning routines such as showering and brushing your teeth.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • Don’t wear cologne, perfume, skin lotions or makeup. No wigs, hairpins, contact lenses, false eyelashes, dentures, partial plates, jewelry or piercings are permitted. If you have piercings that you can’t remove yourself, please discuss this with your physician prior to your surgery date.
  • People assigned female at birth (AFAB) of childbearing age will be required to take a urine test on the day of surgery for pregnancy testing.

Arriving at the hospital

  • Please plan to arrive two hours before your scheduled surgery time. Endoscopy patients should arrive 60 minutes prior to scheduled procedure time. This allows enough time for pre-surgical registration, anesthesia personnel and to prepare you for your surgery.
  • Enter the hospital through the main entrance and proceed directly to the security desk. As you enter the security desk and sign in with the receptionist, we may ask for your photo ID and insurance information. As surgery times and preparations for surgery vary with each patient, you may be taken out of the order in which you registered.

Unfortunately, emergencies or cancellations can’t be predicted and can affect your estimated surgery time. If this happens to you, we appreciate your patience. We’ll make every attempt to keep you and your family informed of changes as they occur.

Before your surgery

You’ll be taken to the pre-surgical unit, where:

  • You’ll be asked to change into a gown.
  • A caregiver will take your temperature, pulse and blood pressure, along with an interview assessment. A nurse will review any allergies and any medications you’re taking.
  • Dentures, glasses and other prostheses will be removed just before you’re taken to the operating room and returned to you in the recovery room.
  • Your care team will do multiple checks to confirm your surgical site. If your surgery involves the left or right side, your provider will initial the correct operative site with a marking pen.

Because of limited space, we ask that you have no more than two visitors waiting for you in the pre-surgical unit. In order to protect our patients, caregivers and community, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we’re making changes to our visitation policy. For the most current visitation guidelines, visit our website.

During your surgery

Once you go into surgery, your visitors will be instructed to return to the surgery waiting room. While you’re in surgery, we’ll keep your family and/or friends in the surgery waiting room informed. Visitors are always welcome in the surgery waiting room or the main lobby, but, because of limited space, we ask that there be no more than two visitors per patient at any one time in the pre-surgical unit.

We’ll notify your loved ones when you’re ready for discharge from the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) or when you’re transferred to your room.



Following your intake assessment, a board-certified anesthesiologist will then explain your anesthesia options. Together, you’ll then review your health and anesthesia history, as well as the type of anesthesia to be used during your surgery, including:

  • General anesthesia, which causes you to be asleep (unconscious) during the surgical procedure.
  • Regional anesthesia (nerve block, epidural and spinal), which causes the area of the body — including the surgery site — to be numb. Nerve blocks can also provide pain relief for many hours after surgery.
  • Local anesthesia, which the surgeon performs at the surgical site.
  • Monitored anesthesia care (MAC), which combines local anesthesia at the surgical site (administered by the surgeon) with significant intravenous sedation and monitoring provided by the anesthesia personnel.
After Your Surgery

After Your Surgery

After surgery, you’ll be taken to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). Specially trained nurses will monitor your progress as you recover from the immediate effects of your surgery and anesthesia. Oxygen is routinely used upon arrival to the PACU. You’ll be asked to cough and take deep breaths. You’ll also be asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being severe pain. Reporting pain as a number helps your providers know how well your treatment is working and whether changes should be made.

Your pain relief and anesthesia medications will vary depending on the type of procedure you’ve had, the anesthesia used and how you respond to pain medication. You’ll receive pain medications in small doses to keep you comfortable, but they may cause some nausea. Although absence of pain may not be possible, we want to make you as comfortable as we can. Each person responds differently to anesthesia. Outpatient recovery time is typically around 90 minutes, but please don’t be alarmed if you remain in the PACU longer than the average time. The PACU nurse may call your family spokesperson or chosen contact after surgery to explain your condition and status.

You’ll be given medications during your surgery that may affect your ability to remember. Please be sure to discuss any questions you have with your provider.

To protect the privacy of all patients, there are no routine visiting hours in the PACU. Visiting can be arranged on an individual basis.

If You Are Admitted to the Hospital

If You Are Admitted to the Hospital

The admission process

If you’re being admitted to the hospital, your loved ones may join you in the nursing unit once your nurse has checked you into your room and completed your assessment. 

It’s important that your healthcare provider know exactly what medications you’re taking. Don’t take any medications or supplements that you’ve brought from home while you’re a patient in the hospital unless your provider has approved them.

For your convenience, family and friends can reach a patient room or other Cleveland Clinic Martin Health phone number by calling 772.287.5200.

Same Day Discharge

Same Day Discharge

If you’re having outpatient surgery and going home the same day, you’ll be discharged from the PACU when you meet the discharge criteria set by your anesthesiologist and provider. If you wish, you may have something to drink and crackers to eat as you recover.

During the discharge process, you’ll be given homecare instructions and any prescriptions ordered by your provider.

One loved one may join you to listen to discharge instructions. No children under the age of 14 will be permitted in the PACU. You’ll be discharged to your car from the main entrance of the hospital.

If you have any medical concerns after your surgery, please call your provider listed on your discharge sheet. If you can’t reach your provider, you can call the Emergency Department.

If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.

Surgical Site Infections

Surgical Site Infections

What is a surgical site infection (SSI)?

A surgical site infection is an infection that happens after surgery in the part of the body where the surgery took place. Most patients who have surgery don’t develop an infection. However, infections develop in about 1 to 3 of every 100 surgical patients.

Some common symptoms of surgical site infections are:

  • Redness and pain around the area where you had surgery.
  • Drainage of cloudy fluid from your surgical wound.
  • Fever.

Can SSIs be treated?

Yes. Antibiotics can treat most surgical site infections. The antibiotics given to you depends on the bacteria (germs) causing the infection. Sometimes, patients with SSIs also need another surgery to treat the infection.

What are some of the things that hospitals are doing to prevent SSIs?

To prevent SSIs, doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers:

  • Clean their hands and arms up to their elbows with an antiseptic agent just before the surgery.
  • Clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after caring for each patient.
  • May remove some of your hair immediately before your surgery using electric clippers if the hair is in the same area where the procedure will occur. They shouldn’t shave you with a razor.
  • Wear special hair covers, masks, gowns and gloves during surgery to keep the surgery area clean.
  • Give you antibiotics before your surgery starts. In most cases, you should get antibiotics within 60 minutes of the start of your surgery. The antibiotics should be stopped within 24 hours of the completion of your surgery.
  • Clean the skin at the site of your surgery with a special soap that kills germs.

What can I do to help prevent SSIs?

Before your surgery:

  • Tell your provider about other medical conditions you may have. Conditions such as allergies, diabetes and obesity could affect your surgery and your treatment.
  • Quit smoking. Patients who smoke get more infections. Talk to your provider about how you can quit smoking before your surgery.
  • Don’t shave near where you’ll have surgery. Shaving with a razor can irritate your skin and make it easier to develop an infection.

At the time of your surgery:

  • Speak up if someone tries to shave you with a razor before surgery.
  • Ask why you need to be shaved and talk with your surgeon if you have any concerns.
  • Ask if you’ll get antibiotics before surgery.

After your surgery:

  • Make sure that your healthcare providers clean their hands before examining you, either with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. If you don’t see your healthcare providers clean their hands, please ask them to do so.
  • Family, friends and pets who visit you shouldn’t touch the surgical wound or dressings.
  • Family and friends should clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after visiting you. If you don’t see them clean their hands, please ask them to do so.

What do I need to do when I go home from the hospital?

  • Before you go home, your doctor or nurse should explain everything you need to know about taking care of your wound. Make sure you understand how to care for your wound before you leave the hospital.
  • Always clean your hands before and after caring for your wound.
  • Before you go home, make sure you know who to contact if you have questions or problems once you get home.
  • If you have any symptoms of an infection, such as redness and pain at the surgery site, drainage or fever, call your provider immediately.

If you have any additional questions, please ask your doctor or nurse.

This information is provided and endorsed by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, Infectious Disease Society of America, American Hospital Association, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc., Centers for Disease Control and The Joint Commission.

Going Home

Going Home

Home care instructions

We care about your safety and comfort after surgery and urge you to follow these instructions regarding your recovery, unless otherwise instructed by your provider. If you have any questions, please refer to your discharge instructions or call your provider.

  • To manage your pain, your provider may give you a prescription.
  • Progress gradually from fluids to solid foods.
  • Don’t drink alcoholic beverages or use recreational substances for at least 24 hours after surgery.
  • Take deep breaths to keep your lungs clear.
  • Move around according to your instructions.
  • Don’t drive or operate machinery for 24 hours after surgery or if taking narcotic pain medications.
  • Don’t make important decisions or sign any important documents within 24 hours after surgery.

Additionally, you’ll receive a courtesy follow-up phone call the next business day after your surgery to see how you’re doing and if there are any questions you might have. If no one answers the phone, for your privacy, we won’t leave a voice message. There’s no need to return our call unless you have any questions or concerns.

Pain control

After surgery, we may not be able to stop all your pain, but we’ll help you to be as comfortable as possible.

Other helpful pain reduction techniques

Relaxation techniques: 

  1. Get in a comfortable position.
  2. Breathe in slowly while counting to three.
  3. Breathe out slowly while counting to three.
  4. Continue breathing in and out in same manner.


  1. Get in a comfortable position.
  2. Imagine you’re in a place you’ve found to be relaxing (e.g. beach, mountains).
  3. Breathe in and out slowly while picturing this in your mind.


  1. Get in a comfortable position.
  2. Listen to “easy listening” music or your favorite type of music with your eyes closed.

Coughing and deep breathing

Coughing and deep breathing can help prevent pneumonia, decrease pain, improve the oxygen in your blood and remove the anesthetic from your body. You’ll be asked to take three or four deep breaths followed by one cough, 10 times every hour on the day of your surgery. Deep breathing and coughing can be accomplished in a sitting or lying down position.

  • Breathe out normally.
  • Clasp your hands over your abdomen.
  • Breathe in until you feel your abdomen push out.
  • Breathe out slowly.
  • Rest a few seconds.
  • Repeat three to four times then cough one to two times.
  • Relax and breathe normally.
  • Repeat technique 10 times every hour.


You may wake up with pumps on your feet or inflatable stockings on your legs after your surgery. These help pump blood from your legs back to your heart. Movement and walking will decrease the chance of blood clots forming in your legs. We’ll teach you how to do ankle pumps. When lying down, point your toes on both feet toward your chin and stretch them out by pushing them away from your chin. Do this 10 times an hour. Flex your knees. Don’t lie in one position or cross your legs.

Financial arrangements

Your provider is a member of the hospital’s medical staff and will supervise your care. Your provider will arrange for your tests, medications, diet and completion of a history and physical. Your provider may call in other specialists for consultation or assistance.