Surgery: A Patient's Guide from Diagnosis to Recovery

Reviewer: Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN
Last Modified: March 11, 2010

Surgery Authors: Claire Mailhot, Melinda Brubaker, Linda Garratt Slezak
Publisher: University of California, San Francisco, Nursing Press
ISBN: 0943671191
Price: $20.00

OncoLink Rating: 3 Stars

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There are an estimated 50 million surgeries performed in the United States each year. The majority are uncomplicated procedures that, once complete, allow the patient to return to life as they knew it before surgery. When the surgery is for a serious condition, such as cancer, things may be a bit more complicated. Although some patients do not have the luxury of waiting a few days before having surgery, most can afford to wait a few days, allowing the patient and family to better prepare. Unfortunately, when faced with a serious surgery, both patients and families become overwhelmed, and do not know what to ask or prepare for. In today's world of healthcare, patients are discharged earlier, with more homecare needs, and are expected to do more for themselves than every before. Surgery: A Patients Guide from Diagnosis to Recovery provides the reader with the information needed to make informed choices from presurgical decisions through going home after surgery.

The book contains information on interviewing and selecting the surgeon (you wouldn't buy a car without asking questions!), personal issues, such as childcare and finding support services, types and risks of anesthesia, what to expect in the operating room, recovery room, and nursing unit, typical medications, home care, and billing problems after discharge. The book provides lists of questions to ask everyone from the surgeon to the billing office.

One section that could benefit even the healthiest of readers is How to Insure Your Financial Safety: Understanding Your Health Plan. This section describes how to examine and chose a health plan - something most people don't think about until they actually need to use their insurance. While you realistically cannot examine a health plan for coverage of every possible scenario, a good overview of services to check before signing up are discussed. The section goes on to point out steps to determine that the surgical procedure and any follow-up care will be paid for by the insurance plan - prior to having the procedure. Many patients think that financial issues are always addressed up front by the hospital, but this is not always the case, leaving some patients and families with unbearable medical debt. While bills cannot always be avoided, it is helpful to know your rights as an insurance plan participant and how to address them.

It has been my experience that patients and families do not ask questions of their healthcare providers because they are not sure what to ask. Surgery: A Patients Guide from Diagnosis to Recovery takes the mystery out of surgery, explaining the preoperative, operative and postoperative stages step by step. As a healthcare consumer, you can ensure the best possible outcomes by gaining the knowledge to make informed decisions for yourself or your family. The authors are well qualified to provide this information; all are nationally recognized experts in surgical services. OncoLink highly recommends this book for any patient or family of a patient who is facing surgery.