Preparing for Surgery Checklist: 5 Steps you should take

Preparing for Surgery Checklist: 5 Steps you should take

Any surgery can cause an upheaval in your life. The best way I’ve found to counter this is to be prepared. Do as much as possible before surgery so after surgery you can relax and focus on recovery. In this article, I go over some areas you can clear out of your way – a preparing for surgery checklist if you will.

Consulting with your doctor – More than saying Ahhhhh


Before meeting with your doctor, on that last pre-op appointment, make a list of questions. How long does he expect you to stay in the hospital? When will you be able to drive? What activities will you be unable to do after surgery? How long does he expect you to be off work? When should you make your post-op appointment? Will there be physical therapy? Any question you have write it down and take the list with you to that appointment.


Insurance – The Necessary Evil or Thank Goodness you have it?


Before your surgery, you want to find out if your doctor and hospital are in or out of your insurance network. One time I was shocked – the hospital I was in was in-network but what a surprise when I got a bill from one of the doctors that tended to me and he was out of network. I called my insurance company and asked why he would be out of network when the hospital I went to was in-network. The insurance representative’s reply was, “you have the choice when you go in the hospital not to use an out of network doctor.”  I had no idea – I had just assumed since the hospital was in-network then everything would then be covered as in-network.  Another example I have is when my primary care doctor ordered blood work. I was in his office, never left his office, they drew blood in his office.  I was shocked again when I found the doctor had sent my blood work to an out of network lab.  It doesn’t seem right to me but it does to the insurance company.

You also want to find out what your deductible is for both in-network and out of network services. Have you reached your out-of-pocket maximum or do you still have to pay out-of-pocket until you reach it? Once you find this out at least there is less room for surprises.  You more than likely will be asked to pay any deductible you haven’t reached upfront before the surgery.

Double-check and be sure your insurance has pre-approved your surgery and the hospital stay.  Find out how many days post-op has been approved for you to stay in the hospital. Again, you don’t want any surprises.

Important Documents – I Don’t Want to Think about Them

As you’re preparing for surgery you should make sure you have some documents completed. If you already have them completed, you should check them to see if any Preparing-for-Surgery-Checklist-Documentsupdates are needed.  What documents am I talking about?

  • Will
    • In layman terms a will states how your money and property should be distributed after your death.
  • Revocable Living Trust
    • This is a written agreement where you designate someone to manage your property. The reason it’s called “living” is that you create it while living and it’s “revocable” because you can change it at any time in your life as long as you are mentally competent.
  • Advance Directive & Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
    • This is an important document as you are giving someone the power to make your healthcare decisions if you are unable to make them for yourself. Your wishes and thoughts should be included so the person you assign to make the decisions will be informed as to what you want and for them to act accordingly.
  • Financial Power of Attorney
    • This document allows you to appoint someone to take care of financial matters if you are unable to do so.

In a review article, I wrote I compared two products from Quicken that contain these documents.

If you have any questions or doubts about what financial documents are right for you, please consult with an attorney.

What about you?

Above we discussed what to include in your pre-surgery checklist. Now I want to go over what you can do to have yourself/your body be bettered prepared for surgery. Surgery can bring up a whole host of feelings and emotions including nervousness, anxiousness, fear, depression to name a few.  These feelings are quite common and normal. The best way to get through all those emotions and feelings is to face them square on. If you feel the need be sure to talk to someone – be it a friend, a spouse, clergy or therapist. Don’t try to squash those feelings and emotions or pretend they don’t exist – that won’t help the situation. Meditation can also relieve some of the nervousness. If you haven’t meditated before it’s a good time to learn – it can’t hurt right.

Get as much rest as you can before surgery. After surgery, you will be in pain and probably won’t sleep soundly at first. Get your sleep and don’t get run down.


Preparing-for-Surgery-Checklist-NutritionDon’t ignore your nutrition. Eat healthful foods. If you’re not sure what healthful foods are go to the good old food pyramid. You won’t be able to eat or drink before surgery so be sure to get your last meal in before the time that the medical staff tells you to stop which is usually midnight before surgery.


Last but not least, don’t forget to buy products that will help you after your surgery and you’re on the road to recovery. See my article entitled, Post Surgery Supplies.

Are you ready – I bet you are

Those days leading up to surgery can bring an array of emotions and feelings. They are normal and you are normal to have them. Preparation is one of the best ways to enter surgery. Taking the steps above will make you more prepared and you will be less stressed the day of surgery.


Here is your pre-surgery checklist – add to it as you think of other things you have to do.

  • Doctor
    • Questions and instructions
  • Insurance
    • Pre-approval
    • In-Network – Out of Network
    • Deductibles
  • Documents
    • Will
    • Revocable Living Trust
    • Advanced Directive and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
    • Financial Power of Attorney
  • You
    • mental health
    • sleep
    • nutrition
    • post-surgery supplies

6 thoughts on “Preparing for Surgery Checklist: 5 Steps you should take

  1. Really nice and comprehensive checklist! And as far as what you said about the insurance companies, I can 100% attest to that. I used to work for various insurance companies, and they are not very transparent with their clients, especially with HMO plans. Really thoroughly through everything you are signing!!!

    1. TJ,
      Thank you for your insight into insurance companies and their transparencies or lack thereof. Yes, great advice to read through everything, I know there are times I hadn’t and wish I did.

  2. Great checklist Debbie, you can tell you were well prepared before you went into hospital.
    People will find this very helpful as a lot of them forget vital things when they are worried about the surgery they are about to go through.
    The part on insurance is eye opening and something your readers should take notice of.
    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Frank, Thank you for your comment. Yes, insurance can be tricky but a necessary entity most of the time. I’m glad you found the article helpful. Thank you again.

  3. So many good advices. Thank you. Reading this I got a flashback from a knee surgery I did in the 90s. I was a bit disoriented as I woke up after the surgery, and the doctor came and told med what he had found and what he did on my knee, but I didn’t remember a word later. I had to ask to get a second review. It is very important to be prepared before surgery, but also important to make sure you get all information after the surgery.

    1. Marie, Thank you for reading the article and your comment. What great advice about the information after surgery. Thank you for sharing.

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