Pre-Op Clinic Aims to Make Surgery Safer

Part of what makes surgery so stressful is getting to the hospital hours in advance, or, worse, having to reschedule because doctors spot a problem.

That's what led to pre-op clinics. Stormont-Vail started one a few months ago. Dr. Brooke Hall, clinic co-director, says staff wants to get to know patients well ahead of time. She and her staff see patients up to a month before surgery. They do labs, EKGs, chest x-rays and anything else needed to get a full picture of a patient's health before their operation.

Dr. Hall says it's important to get that picture because some patients might have high blood pressure or high blood sugar that needs to be controlled before surgery. Other patients might be taking medications that must be stopped ahead of surgery. The Pre-Op Clinic can further evaluate those situations in advance. Prior to the clinic, Dr. Hall says a patients might come in the day of surgery and have their surgery cancelled because of a medical problem.

Besides reducing cancellation risk, the clinic reduces the risk of surgery itself. Dr. Michael Hutchison, clinic co-director, says situations that would have surprised surgical staff no longer surprise them. Dr. Hutchison says the clinic gives anesthesiologists information about a patient earlier. That not only improves odds for a good outcome, it can also improve convenience for patients. Dr. Hutchison says a clinic visit can speed up the surgery-day process by two to three hours because all the information is already gathered and compiled in a useable form.

Stormont-Vail started its Pre-Pp clinic last May. Not everyone goes through it. For example, a healthy patient undergoing a less complicated procedure may not need to be seen.


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