Questions to Ask Before Having Anesthesia

Important Questions Before Your Surgery and Anesthesia Begin

Before you have anesthesia, it is important that any questions you may have are answered clearly. This helps prevent any surprises before your surgery, one of the last times when you want to receive new information. While you may meet with your surgeon several times before your surgery, you may meet your anesthesia provider for the first time immediately prior to your surgery. For this reason, you may be asking both your surgeon and your anesthesia provider questions about your anesthesia care.

Your opportunity to ask the anesthesia provider questions usually happens during the pre-anesthesia interview, a time where the anesthesia provider asks you questions about your medical history, medications and any other pertinent information. This interview is not just for the provider to ask questions: Use this time ask any questions that you have during this phase of planning.

Questions To Ask Your Anesthesia Provider

  • Who will be providing my anesthesia? Will it be an anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist or medical resident?
  • If there is an emergency situation during my procedure, will I need to be transported to another facility for care? How far away is that facility? (For patients having surgery in a surgical center, rather than a hospital.)
  • Will I be awake immediately after surgery or will I wake slowly? Most procedures allow for the patient to wake quickly, but some, such as open heart surgery, allow the patient to wake slowly.
  • What type of monitoring will be done during my surgery?
  • What type of anesthesia will be used and will I be awake? Will I be on a ventilator for the procedure?
  • For childbirth: What are my anesthesia options for delivery?
  • Will the anesthesia provider be with me during the entire procedure?
  • What medications should I take before surgery and which ones should I not take?
  • What is my personal risk of anesthesia complications?
  • When should I quit eating and drinking before surgery? 

Your anesthesia is unique to you and your specific needs. Be candid with the anesthesia provider, simple questions like "how much alcohol do you drink" can help determine the medications you are provided before, during and after surgery. If you often forget to take your medications, tell the person giving your anesthesia, these small details can be very important for your care. 

There are many types of anesthesia, so make sure you understand the type of anesthesia you will be receiving. Will you be completely unconscious and on a ventilator, or will you be lightly sedated and aware of the procedure but not feeling pain? Understanding the process will help you determine what questions you should be asking in the weeks before your procedure. 

Questions You Should Ask. The American Association for Nurse Anesthetists. 2008.

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