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Surgery patient guide

Please use this information as a guide to prepare for your surgery at St. John’s Hospital.

Doctor in white coat with electronic tablet talking with male patient

A surgery timeline

  • Visit your primary care provider for a physical examination.
  • If directed, make an appointment with your cardiologist for “cardiac clearance.”
  • Pre-operative testing. Your physician may order tests prior to your procedure (labs, EKG, cardiac clearance, chest X-ray, etc.). This will need to be completed at least one week prior to surgery. Fax all results to 217-757-6018.
  • Pre-admission interview. A pre-admissions nurse from HSHS St. John’s Hospital will contact you to complete a pre-operative interview. The interview will include a review of your past health history and current medications.
  • Pre-registration. Please go online and complete the eCheck-in process on MyHSHS. You may also pre-register by phone by calling 217-535-3797.
HSHS St. John’s Hospital surgery department provides services and support for patients that require inpatient or outpatient surgical interventions. We are proud to provide a comprehensive approach to the education, preparation, and care of our surgical patients and their families.
  • Food and Liquids. DO NOT eat or drink anything after midnight before your surgery, unless instructed to do so by your physician. DO NOT chew gum or eat candy. This will reduce the likelihood of vomiting or breathing in stomach contents during surgery. Your surgery could be delayed or cancelled if you do not follow these instructions.
  • Illness. If you feel ill or have a fever, call your physician. It may be necessary to postpone your surgery.
  • Smoking. Due to the potential for abnormal lab results we ask that you do not smoke after midnight before your surgery.
On the day of your surgery please be sure to follow these procedures to ensure a smooth arrival and successful surgery. 

Before Surgery
  • Arrive at the time specified by your surgeon’s office. This will allow for any pre-operative testing and preparation to be completed prior to surgery.
  • You will be asked the same questions by multiple people throughout the pre-anesthesia process. This allows us to verify important information critical to the care we provide.
  • An intravenous (IV) line will be placed in the hand or arm.
  • Any medications brought from home will be sent home with family or designee.
  • You will be asked to remove all hair pins, hearing aids, piercings, contact lenses, glasses, jewelry, dentures and partials. If a family member or designee is unavailable to take your valuables (jewelry, electronic devices, money, medications) the items will be inventoried and placed in a safe place prior to surgery.
  • Per hospital policy, St. John’s is not responsible for any lost, misplaced or stolen items.
  • You will be wheeled into the operating room on a bed or stretcher.
  • The team members will have surgical masks on their faces to keep the operating room a clean environment.
  • The room will probably be cool. Warm blankets will be provided once you are on the operating table.
  • Medication may also be given through your IV to make you more comfortable.
  • The actual length of your surgery will depend on the procedure being done. Your surgeon will go over this with you when scheduling your surgery.
  • When you are in surgery, your family can see where you are in the surgical process by viewing an electronic communication board in the waiting room.
  • A waiting room attendant will visit your family members and companions while you are in surgery to provide assistance or answer any questions they may have.
After your surgery, we will provide you with the care you deserve from pain management to after care instructions.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask our surgical team. 

Post-Operative pain management
  • Your care team will discuss postoperative pain management with you.
  • Adequate pain control aids in early movement and deep breathing which decreases your risk for pneumonia and blood clots. It also helps you recover more quickly.
  • While we may not be able to make you completely pain free, our goal is to make the pain as manageable as possible.
Discharge and care after surgery
  • If you are admitted to the hospital after surgery you will be taken to your room from the recovery unit (PACU). You will be placed on the hospital floor that is appropriate for the care you will need.
  • During your hospital stay, your need for pain management, physical or occupational therapy and home health will be determined by you and your care team.
  • Discharge instructions and education will be given to your family or a designee prior to going home. A designee must be 18 years of age or older. These instructions will include:
  • Activity restrictions
  • Take all prescribed medications as directed which includes taking antibiotics until they are gone.
  • Special diets or food restrictions
  • Special instructions related to your surgery, such as dressing changes, crutches, walkers, hot/cold packs and infection prevention
  • Pain expectations
  • Post-operative appointment with your surgeon
  • Personal hygeine instructions will include how to bathe or shower with surgical wounds or dressings.
  • Your nurse or discharging physician/ provider will let you know when to restart taking any medications you stopped taking prior to surgery.
  • Some minor side effects related to the anesthesia can include:
  • Being very tired
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Take it easy for a few days after surgery. It may take a while to start feeling back to normal.
For questions or concerns regarding your surgery please contact your surgeon’s office.

Medication verification

  • To ensure your safety during surgery it is important to know ALL medications you are currently taking.  When you complete your pre-operative telephone interview, and also arrive on the day of surgery, the surgical care team will verify your current medications and the last time you took them.
  • This is important to help prevent drug interactions with anesthesia medications or other medications given during surgery.
  • Please be prepared to provide the following information:
  • Allergies or reactions to medications.
  • Pharmacy and phone number where you get your prescriptions filled.
  • Current prescribed medications, dose, route, frequency and duration, if you are on antibiotics. It may be helpful to read directly from the prescription or pill bottle to provide the interviewer with the most accurate information.
  • Current non-prescription, over-the-counter medications.
  • Current dietary supplements/vitamins/minerals/herbal medications.This includes inhalers/patches/ topical/eye/ear/nasal medications.

What to bring with you on the day of surgery

  • Insurance forms and cards. Bring all cards at time of admission and registration.
  • Home medication card. Please bring your completed home medication card. This list should include the name of the medication, dose, reason for taking and how it is taken.
  • Advance directives. Please provide copies of your advance directives. If you do not have an advance directive for health care, one of our spiritual care colleagues can help complete these documents at the time of admission. Please note, these individuals cannot assist with advance directives or power of attorney processing for personal property.
  • Clothing and belongings. Wear loose and comfortable clothing and leave all jewelry and valuables at home. 
  • Someone to drive you home. Due to the anesthesia you will receive you MUST have a responsible adult drive or accompany you home. St. John’s will reschedule your procedure if we cannot verify you have a ride or someone to accompany you home following your surgery.

Bringing your medical equipment and supplies

  • CPAP machines. Whether you are having an outpatient procedure or being admitted to the hospital after surgery, please bring your at home respiratory devices with you to the hospital.
  • Ventilation supplies. If you have an alternate airway, such as a tracheostomy, please bring all at home care supplies you normally use for your daily care.
  • Enteral tube feeding supplies. If you have specific tubing or feeding supplies for yourself or your child (g-tube adaptors, portable feeding pumps or syringes), please bring them on the day of surgery.
  • If HSHS St. John’s Hospital has the supplies for your equipment we will not expect you to use your home supplies, but in case we don’t have what you specifically use it is always a good idea to bring your preferred items.

Your role in infection prevention

We all have a role to play in prevention infections post surgery.  Please follow these common practices to help prevent infections after your surgery. 

Preventative Practices

  • Skin Checks. Before surgery, check your skin to make sure you are free from any skin infections and do not have any scrapes, scratches or reddened or inflamed areas that may indicate an infection.
  • Skin Preparation. If directed by your physician, wash your skin with a special soap called HIBICLENS the night before and the morning of surgery. You can get this from your surgeon’s office or your local drug store. Try to keep your body clean after starting to use HIBICLENS. Avoid any activity that may cause you to sweat or get dirty. St. John’s Hospital also has an infection control and prevention initiative called “Nose to Toes.” On the day of surgery you may be asked to swab your nose, use a mouthwash and/or clean your skin with wipes, depending on your type of procedure.
  • Tobacco Use. Being a smoker or tobacco user can impact your ability to fight off infections and can delay the healing process.
  • Blood Glucose Monitoring. If you are diabetic it is important to closely monitor your blood glucose readings and notify your physician immediately if your readings are abnormal. A high blood glucose level can result in a slow healing wound and increase the risk of a surgical site infection.
  • Nutrition. Eating a balanced diet and good hydration are important when preparing your body for surgery. A diet rich in protein and vegetables can help the healing process.
  • Hand Washing. Always WASH YOUR HANDS before and after caring for your surgical wound, and make sure all health care providers and family and friends do as well. (Don’t be afraid to ask.)
  • Notify your physician. Call your physician if you notice any redness or pain around the area where you had surgery, drainage of cloudy fluid from your surgical wound or a fever greater than 101.5 F.