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When you are planning for a surgical procedure, it’s helpful to have a list of questions ready to ask the doctor. Print these out and bring them with you to your appointment. If you think of any other questions, add them. If you aren’t sure you understand the answers your doctor gives, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you take notes!

Questions to ask the doctor before a surgical procedure

  1. What is this procedure for? Is it routine? Is it to look for something specific?
  2. What will happen during this procedure?
  3. How long will the treatment last?
  4. Does the patient have to do anything specific before? (For example, no foods or liquids or drunk lots of water)?
  5. What kinds of reactions might the patient have?
  6. What are the alternatives?
  7. What is the medication which has been prescribed?
  8. What are the side effects?
  9. How does it react with the other medications she is taking?
  10. Who is the specialist?
  11. How will his life be altered by this treatment?
  12. Why is it necessary?
  13. Will it improve anything?
  14. What are the risks?
  15. Will she need a special diet or exercises?
  16. Where will the treatment be performed?
  17. How long will he be there?
  18. How long is the expected recuperation?

Sheila Warnock and Cappy Capossella, Share the Care: How to Organize a Group to Care for Someone Who is Seriously Ill (New York: Fireside, 1995, 2004).



Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is an Approved Guardianship Attorney. She assists people in elder law, estate and special needs planning, guardianship and settling estates. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

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