Is there ever a good reason to cancel or postpone surgery?

Surgery Center, Self Care

 

Older blond woman on the phone at the computer.

It’s the night before a major operation. You feel apprehensive about the next day. Should you call and cancel?

It depends on the reason.

Rarely is it a good idea to cancel the day before or the day of surgery.

However, there are a few valid reasons to cancel the day before or the morning of the procedure.

You spike a fever, have trouble breathing, were involved in an accident, or have developed an infection.

If you’re sick or injured, your surgeon wants you to cancel for your health and the health of the surgical staff.

Having surgery while your body is recovering from a recent injury or fighting an illness, especially a respiratory infection, prolongs your recovery. In some cases, it can cause serious, life-threatening complications.

There may be reasons to call things off a week or two before your surgery.

You have an insect bite or a minor cut that looks and feels like it’s infected.

Always tell your medical team about things going on in your body. If you have a minor infection, it may be a valid reason to postpone your procedure.

When you have surgery, you create a planned injury. Your body’s immune system will send an army of healing cells to your incision. Your body is more efficient if it isn’t already fighting a battle, even a small one, in a different area.

The infection itself presents another reason why you should wait. An active infection can cause problems during recovery and interfere with healing.

Your surgical team will take every precaution to keep you, the surgical site, the surgical suite, and the recovery area free of bacteria and viruses that cause infection. But it's easier if there is not an active infection circulating in your bloodstream.

You have a cavity or an infected tooth.

Your mouth is full of bacteria. Some bacteria are helpful – others are destructive enough to make holes in your teeth.

In some instances, bacterial infections in the mouth travel through the body to infect the surgical site causing problems during recovery.

If you need joint replacement surgery, it's a good time to check with your dentist and take care of any tooth decay.

There are also times you should postpone or cancel surgery a month or more before the procedure.

If you have second thoughts after you arrive home from making the surgical appointment, take a short two-question assessment to see if you should keep your date with the surgical team.

It’s normal to feel jittery before surgery.

Talk to your provider about the surgery. Ask questions about the procedure. Ask about options. It's wise to figure out whether your nerves exist because of normal apprehension or if there is an underlying cause for your anxiety. Consider these reasons.

You feel pressured into surgery.

We probably all know someone who has been there. A friend or family member went to the doctor, found out they had a medical issue. And then, within weeks, they were having surgery.

If your surgery is not essential for survival, and you feel like that has happened to you, take a moment to reflect on your situation.

Call your doctor’s office and ask if there are alternative treatments you can try. The answer may be “no” but having that answer can ease your mind.

You can also postpone your surgery and request a second opinion.

Slowing down to follow through on these two steps can help you feel more at ease with your care plan.

You didn’t hit it off with the surgeon during the first appointment.

It’s important to feel comfortable with your surgeon and confident with his or her skills. As you prepare and recover from the surgical procedure, you and your surgeon need to work together to ensure the best outcome.

Communication should flow smoothly. You should feel free to ask questions and receive complete and informative answers. For that to happen, you and your surgeon will need to have a good working relationship.

If you are not confident or comfortable with your surgeon, don’t be afraid to ask to see someone else. Surgeons know how meaningful the provider-patient relationship is to open communication, before, during, and after your surgical procedure.

These are all valid reasons to rethink and, in some instances, re-schedule your surgery.

If you experience any of these feelings, please check with the clinic, hospital, and insurance company before you cancel. Occasionally, a medical or surgery center will charge a cancelation fee to cover the expense of the surgical set-up.


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