Your Surgical Experience
You and your physician have agreed that your surgery will be performed at Northwest Hospital. The following information will help you understand your surgical experience here – from surgical preparation to planning for your return home. You will also receive specific instructions from your physician and other Northwest Hospital staff. Prior to your surgery, a family member or friend can wait with you in the pre-surgical area , and then meet you in the recovery area following your procedure.
All patients scheduled for surgery on the main hospital campus, should check in at the admitting desk located just inside the north entrance to the hospital, which is located toward the back of the campus near the large totem pole.
If your surgery is scheduled at the Northwest Hospital Outpatient Surgery Center, please check in at the center’s admitting desk at the Northwest Outpatient Medical Center, which is located a short distance from the main campus, at 10330 Meridian Ave North, Suite 150, Seattle, WA 98133.
Before You Go To The Hospital
You will be contacted by an admitting representative and by a nurse from the Northwest Hospital Pre-Admission Department approximately two to four days prior to your surgery.
The admitting representative will:
- Ask for your birth date, insurance numbers and other finance-related questions.
A nurse will:
- Schedule a date for any necessary diagnostic tests (e.g., lab, chest x-ray, EKG or any other tests), unless the surgeon has already made arrangements. Your diagnostic tests will be completed on a separate visit prior to your surgery, if at all possible.
- Obtain a health history and ask health-related questions regarding your medications, allergies and previous illnesses and surgeries.
- Give instructions, provide information about the admission process and answer any other questions you may have.
If you have not been contacted by the hospital by two days prior to your surgery date, please call the Pre-Admission Department at (206) 368-1010 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The law requires that we ask if you have an Advance Directive. Advance Directives allow you to document your preference about how you would like your health care handled, usually at the end of life. Each adult admitted to the hospital will be offered information about patient rights under Washington State Law to make decisions concerning health care, including the right to accept or refuse medical or surgical treatment and the right to formulate Advance Directives. “Living Wills” and durable powers of attorney for health care are examples of Advance Directives. You may want to bring an Advance Directive with you. Hospital employees cannot act as witnesses for Advance Directives, so it needs to be ready before you come to the hospital. If you need information prior to your admission, please call (206) 368-1304. You can also download and print out our online Healthcare Directive brochure.
- Your surgeon will let you know if you may need a blood transfusion for your surgery.
- Be sure to provide your physician with information regarding all other physicians you are seeing and all medications that you take, including aspirin and other nonprescription medications such as vitamins.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and aspirin tend to decrease blood-clotting abilities. Follow your physician’s instructions for stopping these and herbal medications prior to surgery.
- To prepare your lungs for anesthesia and to decrease your post-operative surgical risks, we encourage you to stop smoking at least two weeks prior to surgery. Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, as a health-promoting institution, is a non-smoking hospital. Therefore patients, visitors and staff must refrain from smoking anywhere within the hospital campus. If you feel that this will be a problem for you, please ask the admitting nurse about resources that are available to help you stop smoking.
- When you speak with the admitting nurse prior to surgery, you will be instructed in some home preparation for surgery:
- Shower with antibacterial soap the night before or the morning of your surgery. This helps prevent infections and it will be more comfortable for you if you are not able to bathe for a few days.
- You may brush your teeth the day of the surgery, but do not swallow any water.
- It is very important that you follow the instructions your physician and the nurse have given you about eating, drinking liquids and taking your medications. If you do not follow these restrictions, your surgery may have to be postponed.
- Wear minimal or no make-up and no mascara before surgery.
- You may have to change which medications you take on the day of surgery and those you should not
- Your physician may give you additional instructions regarding diet, enemas or skin preparation.
What To Take To The Hospital
- Insurance cards and forms
- List of medications, including doses
- Personal toiletries, small electrical appliances (e.g. shaver, hair dryer)
- Dentures, eyeglasses with case, contact lenses with case, hearing aid
- Your own robe and sturdy slippers, if desired
- Advance Directive, if you have one
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
What Not To Take To The Hospital
- Jewelry other than rings
Note: At discharge, you may need to pick up your prescriptions. Make sure your escort has the means to purchase these on your way home.. Northwest Hospital & Medical Center provides a safe for wallets, money, etc., through our Admitting Department. However, we recommend that you leave all valuables at home. Northwest Hospital is not responsible for any lost or damaged belongings.
The Day Of Surgery
All surgical patients should report to the Surgery entrance of the hospital at least two hours prior to scheduled surgery. This will allow enough time for the admission process. The nurse will examine you and discuss your health and plan of care. Your last-minute questions can be answered at this time. Other preparations may include:
- Signing the operative and anesthesia permits.
- Practicing deep breathing exercises or using a respiratory exerciser.
Family and Friends
Family and friends may remain in the reception room until you have changed clothes and then can remain with you until you leave for surgery. They are welcome to wait in the Surgical Waiting Room near the Operating Room while you are in surgery. Family will be provided a pager if they want to leave the waiting room. It will only function on hospital grounds. The physician will look for your family and friends in the waiting room after the surgery is complete. People in the Surgical Waiting Room can be reached at (206) 364-0500 (extension 1301) or 368-1910. A hospital volunteer is also seated in the waiting room to answer any questions or provide help.
Meeting Your Anesthesiologist
After you are admitted, you will have the opportunity to talk with your anesthesiologist in the pre-surgical admitting area. Tell him or her if you have had problems with any type of anesthetic in the past. Your anesthesiologist will explain the recommended type of anesthesia.
You will remain in the Recovery Room for about an hour before being moved to your new room which will be in a different area of the hospital. Nurses will be closely monitoring your recovery. You may be aware of monitors or tubes such as an intravenous (IV), oxygen or drainage tubes as you wake up. You may also feel somewhat groggy, nauseated and/or dizzy. Your family and friends may see you when you are in your room after leaving recovery.
Your nurses and doctors want to make your surgery as pain-free as they can. The key to getting the best pain relief is communicating with your health care team. The amount or type of pain you feel may not be the same as others feel – even those who have had the same operation. Both drug and non-drug treatments can be successful in helping to prevent and control pain. You and your doctors and nurses will decide which ones are right for you. Many people combine two or more methods to get greater relief. Do not worry about getting “hooked” on pain medications. Studies show that this is very rare and that you will stop taking pain medications when you no longer have pain.
Activity stimulates circulation, re-awakens all of your body systems and promotes normal body function. Nurses will assist you with turning in bed, getting out of bed and walking as soon as you are allowed to do so. As soon as possible, you will be asked to do these activities by yourself. In general, the more you can do for yourself safely, the sooner you can go home.
Lung expansion is very important following surgery. You will be asked to breathe deeply often after surgery, or perhaps use a respiratory exerciser for a few days to counteract potential complications from anesthesia and from the surgery.
Your physician will decide when you are able to resume eating and drinking. Your diet will advance from liquids to solids as your bowel activity improves. If you have any allergies or food intolerances, please inform the nurse who calls you prior to surgery, or your nurse on admission. We encourage your family to ask questions and participate in your care. This will help them feel more comfortable assisting you once you are home.
Throughout Your Stay – Your Health Care Team
- – The cooperative effort between physicians and other members of your health care team ensures you receive the best possible care. As your care progresses, your physician may consult other physicians.
- – Registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) plan, deliver and coordinate your bedside care. Nurses work with you and your physician to make sure your care needs are met.
- – Nursing assistants have received training in basic nursing tasks such as personal care and blood pressure monitoring. They assist RNs and LPNs in caring for you.
- – Case managers are registered nurses who assist in planning and arranging for ongoing care during and following your hospital stay.
- – A social worker is available to meet a variety of needs, including help with discharge planning and community resource referrals. Social workers can also assist you with long-term care planning and offer support and counseling to patients dealing with a new diagnosis or health-related issues.
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs)
- – CNSs are registered nurses with an advanced degree and clinical expertise in a nursing specialty. CNSs serve as a resource for other nurses and keep abreast of the latest research and nursing practices to make sure you receive quality care.
- – Patients and families may receive spiritual support from their religious affiliations, the Hospital Chaplaincy Program or through the Hospital Spiritual Counselor.
- – You may meet various laboratory, radiology and support personnel all dedicated to providing you with quality care. All hospital personnel wear a name tags, and we encourage you to ask who they are and what they do.
- – More than 300 active volunteers of all ages perform a variety of tasks in the hospital, adding to the caring environment at. From operating the gift shop to leading tours of the facility, volunteers provide support to 50 departments and enhance patient and family visits to Northwest Hospital.
Preparing to Go Home
The length of your hospital stay will depend upon your type of surgery. With recent changes in medicine and health insurance, many patients are able to go home sooner after surgery. The doctor and your health care team will plan your discharge with you. .You must arrange for a ride home from the hospital and you may need someone to assist you at home for a period of time. We encourage your family to ask questions and participate in your care. This will help them feel more comfortable assisting you once you are home. If you feel you will need help at home other than from your family members, let your nurse know. Members from your health care team are available to answer questions about home care support and to help make arrangements for assistance from community services.