Before your procedure, a number of preparations and arrangements should be made. 

We want to help you understand some of the ways we work to provide a safe environment for you. You are part of the health care team. Safe and effective health care requires your participation. By involving you, we work together to ensure your safety.

Taking care of these items before your procedure will help your hospital visit go as smoothly as possible, and may help you have a faster recovery. However, please note that this is a general guide. Your physician’s instructions are specific to you; therefore, if your physician gives you instructions that conflict with the information here, please listen to your physician.

Patient identification

You may think – “Don’t they know why I am here?” Yes, we do. We are making certain that our information matches yours. Be prepared for various hospital staff to ask you some of the same questions. We’re making certain the information we have for you is absolutely correct.

Prevention of surgical site infections

Let your surgeon know as soon as possible if you have any breaks in your skin (insect bites, rash, cut, sunburn, etc.). An opening in the skin may put you at risk for infection.

Stop smoking. Smoking increases your risk for infection. 

Hand hygiene: 

All staff should cleanse their hands before and after providing your care. You may notice staff using the hand sanitizer located in patient rooms and hallways. This is as effective as hand washing when used properly. Give a friendly reminder to anyone who forgets to cleanse their hands.

Pre-op antibiotic:

Depending on the type of surgery your physician may order an antibiotic to be given through your IV shortly before your procedure to help prevent infection.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria:

If you have a history of antibiotic resistance (MRSA, VRE or C. Diff), staff caring for you will use further contact precautions. This includes protective gowns, gloves and face mask.

Antibacterial shower:

Showering prior to your surgery helps decrease the bacteria present on your skin that could cause an infection at your surgical site.

  • For certain procedures, your preadmission nurse will recommend showering with a special soap (chlorhexidine gluconate 4%). This soap should not be used on the head, face, private areas or mucus membranes. This soap performs its antibacterial function without scrubbing. Remember to wash gently.
  • Shower the evening before and the morning before your surgery. If you are allergic to chlorhexidine gluconate, you may use another antibacterial soap or your usual soap. 
  • A shower or bath, the evening before, is acceptable for children.
  • Remove all jewelry, piercings and hair pins before your shower.
  • Don’t apply lotions, powders, deodorant, aftershave lotions, colognes or cosmetics after your shower.
  • Don’t shave or use any other hair removal methods on the surgical site for five days prior to the procedure.
  • Don't wear makeup on the day of your surgery.

Skin preparation for neurosurgery and orthopedic procedures:

In addition to the full body shower noted above, orthopedic and neurosurgery patients should also wash the surgical area, gently, for two minutes with each shower.

View our skin prep guide.

Prevention of blood clots and pneumonia

Some patients may receive medications before and after surgery to help decrease the risk of blood clots. Performing postoperative exercises and walking, as permitted by your physician, will increase your circulation and help prevent blood clots and pneumonia. Ask family and friends not to visit if they have cold or flu symptoms.

Marking the site

The surgeon will verify the surgery with you prior to taking you to the operating room. If there is a side, for example, knee surgery, the surgeon will mark the correct knee.

Time out safety check 

Before your surgery or procedure the staff will perform a “time out” using a checklist. This can be compared to a pilot completing a pre-flight checklist before takeoff. You’ll be asked questions during this time and our staff will verify paperwork and tasks. 


If you develop new symptoms such as a fever with body aches, sore throat or cough before your surgery, contact your surgeon as soon as possible. If you have a chronic condition, such as Parkinson's disease, COPD, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, etc., we recommend that you let that physician know you are scheduled for surgery. This will help them manage your condition more effectively.

Questions before surgery

If you have questions, please contact your surgeon’s office before the day of your surgery. 

For patients and family 

The length of your wait may vary. When planning for the day of surgery, remember that the surgical procedure occupies only a part of the time. Preparation and recovery time should be included in your plans. If you’d like, bring a book or newspaper, crossword puzzle, etc. to do while you wait.

For children

We encourage you to bring a special blanket or toy. There will be a television in your room. Please bring diapers, formula, bottles, sippy cup, etc. 

Contacts and dentures

If you wear contacts or dentures, be prepared to take them out before your surgery. Bring holding cases and solutions for storage, if needed.

Eating and drinking prior to surgery

Do not eat or drink anything by mouth for eight hours before your arrival time, or as directed by your preadmission nurse. Do not smoke, chew tobacco, chew gum, use breath mints or candy. This helps to prevent stomach contents from entering your airway while you are under anesthesia. 

Your nurse or surgeon's office will let you know if you should consume a clear liquid diet, take any special medications or follow bowel preparations.

Your surgery will be cancelled or delayed if you consume anything after midnight, or the time you were instructed.


The preadmission nurse will tell you which medications to take on the day of your surgery or procedure. If you are instructed to take any of your medications the morning of surgery, take them with a sip of water, or as instructed.

Some medications need to be held prior to surgery.  Please make sure that your preadmission nurse and surgeon are aware if you are on any of these medications listed below.  The list includes examples of types of medications and may not list every specific medication.

  • Weight loss supplements including phentermine must be stopped 10 days prior to surgery.  
  • Aspirin.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID). Some examples include: Motrin, Ibuprofen, Naproxyn (Naprosyn, Aleve, Anaprox, etc.).
  • Anticoagulants, sometimes called blood thinners. Examples include: Clopidogrel (Plavix), Prasugrel (Effient),  Ticagrelor (Brilinta) Warfarin (Coumadin), Dabigatran (Pradaxa), Apixaban (Eliquis), Edoxaban (Savaysa), Rivaroxaban (Xarelto), etc. 
  • Vitamins, herbs, minerals, fish oil, and glucosamine should be stopped seven days prior to surgery, unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon or preadmission nurse.  

Going home 

Your physicians require a responsible adult to drive you home. A bus or cab driver cannot fulfill the role of caregiver. You’ll also need a responsible adult to stay with you for 24 hours after your procedure or your surgery will be canceled. You cannot stay in a hotel alone after surgery. If you spend the night in the hospital, or if you're an inpatient, you should plan on a dismissal time of noon on the day you go home.