Last week I saw a patient who had a very severe uterine and vaginal prolapse. She needed to have a vaginal hysterectomy and a pelvic floor repair.
Of course, this came as a huge shock to her. As I always do I explained everything to here is detail including drawings, alternative options and gave her printed information. She went home, did some ‘googling’, spoke with friends and her husband and came back for her second visit together with her husband.
She was armed with a long list of questions and comments. I welcome this and we spent well over half an hour going through her issues and concerns. I thought afterward how wonderful that interview was for her as now she is fully informed and if she decides to go ahead the consent she signs will be an informed consent.
I often ask people “Do you have any questions ?” They reply “I don’t know what to ask!” So here are a few pertinent questions you may want to know from your surgeon.
- Do I really need to have the surgery? What are the indications?
- Are there any alternative treatments available especially non-surgical ones
- How urgent is this surgery and can it wait?
- What are the risks associated with the procedure
- What risks do I face if I don’t have the surgery
- What risks do I face if I delay the surgery?
- How many of these procedures has the surgeon done
- What is his/her complication rate
- How long will the procedure be
- How long will I be in hospital?
- Do you have access to other surgeons such as general bowel surgeons, urologists or other gynaecologists in case they are needed during my operation? If so who are they?
- Who is your anesthetist and can I talk with him/her prior to the surgery
- What is my recovery time and when can I go back to work.
- When can I resume household activities?
- When can I resume sexual activity?
- How can I get hold of you if I have a problem post-operatively?
- Do you see me in hospital after the surgery and will you see me every day
- Can you talk to my husband/partner/children or nominated person post op
- When will you see me for a follow-up?
- How much is the surgery and can I expect surprises in costing.
- How does he/she feel about a second opinion and if so who would they recommend?
What I have listed is a general help. By asking these questions (and of course any others you may think of) you should have a very good idea of what you are in for. Naturally, your surgeon should explain what they intend to do in absolute detail in a language that you fully understand. Always remember you have a choice as to whether you want the procedure and who will do it. Armed with all the information your choice becomes informed and that is your empowerment.