Patients Prep Harder For Vacation Than For Operation

Armen Hareyan's picture
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In today's information-rich environment, American consumers are stepping onto new car lots and into big box super stores more prepared than ever. But according to results of the American College of Surgeons' (ACS) latest "On the Table" consumer survey, when it comes to needing an operation, patients are significantly less proactive in learning about the surgical procedure they will undergo. The findings suggest that for patients, obtaining additional knowledge about their operation prior to the procedure could improve their overall experience and outcome.

The survey, which quantifies the lack of time consumers are likely to spend preparing for an operation versus preparing for other major life events (for instance, changing jobs, buying or leasing a new car, spending more than $1,000 on something for the home, or spending more than $1,000 on a vacation), demonstrates the need for the new book, I Need an Operation... Now What? A Patient's Guide to a Safe and Successful Outcome, from the ACS. The book, written by Thomas R. Russell, MD, FACS, the executive director of the College, lays out the key things patients should consider before consenting to an operation; the questions they should ask their surgeon; and helpful pre- and post-operative tips to ensure they achieve the best results.

According to the survey, one in three Americans (32 percent) has had a surgical procedure within the past five years; one of two (51 percent) has bought or leased a new car; and three of five (62 percent) have spent more than $1,000 on something for their home (furniture, home entertainment, and so on). And while surgical patients spend an average of just one hour researching their surgical procedure or their surgeon, they spend significantly more time researching any of the following:

-- Changing jobs (10 hours)

-- Buying/leasing a new car (Eight hours)

-- Buying a big ticket item for their home >= $1,000 (Five hours)

-- Planning a vacation >= $1,000 (Four hours)

Even more shocking, more than one-third of Americans who had an operation in the last five years (36 percent) did not check their surgeons' credentials before having the procedure.

"Being an informed consumer is important, but being an informed patient is even more so. A surgical procedure should not be something that is done to you while you passively sit by --- patients should know that they can improve their odds for a good outcome if they do their homework upfront --- just as they do when they're buying a car, researching a vacation, or purchasing a house," said Dr. Russell. "This book provides patients with the basic strategies and information necessary to help them gain peace of mind about how to prepare and what to expect when they have an operation."

"I Need An Operation... Now What? is not only practical, but also highly respectful and educational. Patients can use this book to navigate through their surgical experience while we all push for a better organized health care delivery system," said Richard J. Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.

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"Most importantly, this book urges you, the patient, to take control and become fully informed about your options," added Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health.

10 Questions Surgical Patients Should Ask:

-- Is this operation absolutely necessary, and what could happen to me if I choose to forego it?

-- What are the likely long-term effects of this procedure?

-- Are you board certified in the surgical procedure you'll be performing on me?

-- Do you perform this procedure on a regular basis?

-- Do you plan to do this procedure in a hospital or in your office?

-- How do other patients with health factors and surgical needs such as mine fare under your care?

-- What are the potential complications I could face, and are you prepared to handle them?

-- What is the risk of infection?

-- Could I die?

-- What is my role as I recover from this procedure?

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