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How to Protect Yourself or Your Loved One Before, During, and After Surgery

* The preoperative medical clearance must include electrocardiogram (EKG), chest x-ray, complete blood count, complete chemistry analysis, clotting time. Go over this list with your internist (see "Before the Operation").
 
* If there is a fever, your doctor must first identify the source unless there is a need for emergency surgery.
 
* Insist on having a session with a pre-op teacher and ask specific questions about the common errors made in the operating room (see "A Conversation with a Pre-Op Nurse").

* Do not blindly accept your surgeon's recommendation for the anesthesiologist. Set up a meeting and ask the anesthesiologist to explain the procedures and the risks (see "Choosing an Anesthesiologist").
 
* If possible, speak to the circulating nurse and go over the checklist found in the chapter "During the Operation".* Speak to your surgeon about using a Hoyer lift to transfer you or your loved one off the operating table after surgery to reduce the risk of trauma.
 
* Be with your loved one in the PACU (postanesthesia recovery unit), if permitted, and do the following:
  - Turn the patient's head to one side if any vomiting occurs to prevent choking.
  - If the patient had neck surgery or is recovering from a fractured neck, call the nurse and do not touch your loved one's head.

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