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Patient Advice 

Regardless of the type of surgical procedure, pre-operative discussions between the patient and their anaesthetist and surgeon should cover specific topics to ensure that the patient knows what to expect and what is expected of them. It is important to involve the patient in optimising their general medical condition as many patients undergoing surgery have significant co-morbidity. In advance of admission to hospital, the patient should visit their primary care physician – or be referred to the appropriate hospital specialist – to stabilise their treatment for other medical conditions and to optimise their analgesic medication prior to surgery.

Educational resources, such as www.youranaesthetic.info, can inform patients about their forthcoming anaesthetic procedure and provide specific advice about the different anaesthetic and pain relief techniques for surgery. The information can be downloaded as copyright-free printed leaflets suitable for distribution to patients, or patients can visit the site themselves.

Topics for Discussion

For a successful outcome of pain management:
– patients need to have a reasonable expectation of their likely postoperative hospital stay, or to know whether the procedure is being performed on an ambulatory basis
– information must be given on the hospital policy for pain assessment, for example, the use of visual analogue scores
– patients require a realistic expectation of the intensity and duration of postoperative pain
– pain management techniques that require patient involvement (intravenous patient-controlled analgesia, patient-controlled epidural analgesia) need to be properly demonstrated
– patients will require information about the medication to be taken after hospital discharge for management of pain and postoperative nausea