Programs & Services

Preparing For Your Surgery

Tell your surgeon about all the medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter medications like vitamins, aspirin and herbal remedies. Your doctor will tell you which medicines you should continue to take and which medicines you should stop taking before surgery.

If you take insulin or other medications for diabetes, you may be asked to discuss when to stop your diabetic medications prior to surgery with your primary care physician.

Things to bring with you:

  • Your current insurance card
  • Insurance co-payment
  • A list of current prescription medications
  • Vitamins and herbs you routinely take

What to expect on admission:

  • The nursing staff will complete the admission process.
  • A consultation with your anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist if applicable.
  • The nurse will start an IV (intravenous line).
  • The nursing staff may cleanse the area to be operated on with a cloth moistened with a skin antiseptic or they may provide another type of "prep" ordered by your surgeon.

Two days before surgery:

  • Do not shave the area to be operated on for at least 2 days prior to surgery. If your surgeon determines that hair needs to be removed, it will be clipped by hospital personnel using electronic surgical clippers. Shaving can irritate your skin, leaving small cuts and lead to an infection.

The day before surgery:

  • Make sure that you have clean fresh sheets and pillowcases on your bed.
  • If you have pets that routinely sleep on your bed, you should make different sleeping arrangements for them from the night before your surgery until your wound is completely healed.
  • Remove all nail polish.
  • Shower or bathe the night before surgery with a washcloth and antimicrobial soap.
  • Wash your hair with regular shampoo.
  • Rinse well and use a fresh, clean towel to dry your body.
  • Dress in freshly washed clothes.
  • Do not apply lotions, powders, creams, hair products, deodorants or Vaseline.
  • Do not eat or drink anything, including water, after midnight unless your surgeon has told you differently. This includes all food, all liquids, water, candy, mints, and gum. If, for some reason, you forget, please tell the nurse as soon as you arrive.

The morning of surgery:

  • You may shower or bathe again using a wash cloth and antimicrobial soap.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that can easily be put on after surgery and will fit around any dressing or cast, if applicable. Zippers or front buttons are usually better than shirts that need to be pulled over your head.
  • Take only those medications you have been instructed to take by your surgeon or primary care physician. Use the smallest amount of water possible to swallow any pills.
  • Do not apply make-up, jewelry, or hair accessories. Leave all valuables at home.
  • You should wear your glasses instead of contacts.
  • Arrive at the time provided by your surgeon. It is very important that you arrive on time.
  • Go directly to the site/department per your surgeon’s directions.

During your stay, Speak UP if you have questions or concerns. If you don’t understand, ask again. It’s your body and you have a right to know.

Lower your risk for problems after surgery by being actively involved in your care.

  • You will most likely be given an antibiotic within the hour prior to surgery. This can greatly lower your chances of getting an infection after surgery.
  • Your doctor will evaluate your risk for blood clots and initiate steps that will help prevent them if necessary.
  • Tell your doctor about other medical problems you may have, such as allergies or diabetes.
  • These problems could affect you surgery treatment. Patients who smoke get more infections. Talk to your doctor about how you can quit.
  • Observe hand washing and glove use by the healthcare professionals taking care of you. Don’t be afraid to ask them to wash their hands again or to get a new set of gloves.
  • If you are ill or have a contagious condition (fever, cough, cold, vomiting, etc.) at the time of your scheduled appointment, please call your surgeon to discuss your symptoms. It may be necessary to reschedule your surgery.
  • If you are scheduled for ambulatory surgery, someone must accompany you who will provide a ride home. This person should stay and be available to drive you home as soon as you are discharged. (Your surgery may be cancelled if arrangements are not made ahead of time for this.)
  • Children should not be brought to the hospital to wait while a family member has surgery. (Maternity protocols may differ.)

If you have any questions prior to your visit, you may call your surgeon’s office or the Pre-Admission Testing Coordinator at United Memorial at 343-6030. They will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your surgery.


  • Family and friends should not visit if they are ill.
  • Anyone visiting should wash their hands with soap and water or use the waterless antimicrobial foam found in /near each room when they come to visit and when they leave.
  • If you are placed on special precautions, visitor may be required to wear gowns, gloves, and/or masks as instructed by the hospital staff.