Been told by your doctor that surgery is the last resort for treating your condition?

Or that the surgery may not have a 100% success rate?

Or are you angry at your surgeon – he could surely have done a better job? Is it the surgeon’s fault?

If you are going through any of the above situations, it is tough time coming to terms with the state of your medical condition. Preparing, undergoing or recovering from a surgery is a tough task, and often stressful for most patients.

While taking medications is under your control, undergoing a surgery is a completely different ball game. You have entrusted your body in the hands of a surgeon. Whatever prognosis, outcome and side effects the surgeon shares with you is solely his responsibility.

Or is it?

It might not always be the surgeon’s fault. Let’s take a look at the various stages of a surgery where you, the patient, can involve yourself in ensuring a healthy outcome of a surgery:

Selecting An Experienced Surgeon

Ask your primary doctor to refer you to an experienced surgeon or conduct your own research in finding one. Finding a qualified surgeon who has a good deal of specialisation in procedures related to your condition is the first step towards a successful surgery, under the care of a reliable surgical team.

Following All Pre-Surgery Instructions

To a large extent, a successful surgery also depends on the care leading up to the procedure, as it does on the surgeon’s skill. Surgery is a major stress event for your body, and the more physically prepared you are for it, the better are the chances of success.

A healthy diet and lifestyle leading up to the surgery, stopping or taking medications as suggested by the surgeon, and informing the surgeon about any previous condition are important steps that are in your control. Don’t wait for the surgery to fix you up, start preparing for its success today!

Knowing And Acting Upon Your Treatment Options

When you present yourself to a doctor with a condition, the doctor will place all treatment possibilities in front of you. Paying attention to the specialist’s suggestion is crucial. Does s/he think that though medication can abate the symptoms, surgery is the best possible course to take?

A referred surgeon would base his/her opinion on treatment based on years of experience, and it is worthwhile to pay heed to it.

Timing Is Everything With Surgery

Would you rather opt only for medicines to ease the symptoms, only to be faced with a much more riskier surgery later? The crucial piece of information is that you mustn’t let the fear of being operated upon come in way of finding complete cure. Once the doctor presents his/her recommendation for surgery and you both agree on it, putting it off could only allow your condition to worsen, increasing the risk of surgical complications later.

Asking the right questions; Having the right expectations

Asking questions to the surgeon about the procedure, its recovery and complications is important in knowing what to expect once the surgery is over. An honest communication with the surgeon will allow you to manage your expectations from the procedure, and prevent awkward situations later in case things do not go as planned. Once the surgeon’s role is over, questions about precautions will help you understand your role during recovery.

Ask questions like:

“Why do I need this surgery?”

“Is surgery my only option?”

“What can I expect from this surgery in terms of improvement?”

“What complications could result from this surgery?”

“What precautions should I take after surgery?

Knowing about possible complications beforehand

Sure, one must keep a positive outlook and hope for the best, but keeping in check the expectations from the surgeon and taking into account all possibilities helps to be prepared for any complications that may occur post-surgery. A good surgeon and his/her team will take you through all possible scenarios, including how to identify them and how to act in case something does go wrong.

Trusting your surgeon’s skills

Finally, once you have done all you can do ensure you have the best team operating on you, it’s time to trust the surgeon’s experience and skill in dealing with numerous cases just like yours.

Staying committed to recovery

Once the surgery is over, you will need to give yourself time to rest and recover. Don’t expect to be up and running the next marathon immediately after you had a knee or hip replacement surgery.



Image courtesy of [Naypong] at

“Apologies and Medical Error,” Clin Orthop Relat Res. Feb 2009; 467(2): 376–382, Jennifer K. Robbennolt, PhD, JD

“Safe Surgery,”, World Health Organisation,

“Surgeons Make Thousands of Errors,”, Laura Landro, December 19, 2012,

“Surviving Your Worst Mistake: Handling Surgical Errors,”, American Academy of Ophthalmology, Christi A. Foist,

“When Doctors Make Mistakes,” NYTimes, July 9, 2009,

“When routine surgeries go wrong,”, Jacque Wilson, December 19, 2013,

“WHO surgical safety checklist and implementation manual,”, World Health Organisation,

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