Evaluating surgical centers can be an overwhelming process. It is such an important decision, but there are so many choices that it can quickly turn into a stressful endeavor. However, when your health is involved, you can never be too careful. There are a variety of ways that you can begin narrowing down your list of potential spine facilities. First, decide how far you are willing to travel for your surgery. Keep in mind that you will likely not be able to drive yourself home from surgery, so consider who will take you and how far that person would be willing to travel. You can also ask your physician if he or she has any recommendations for surgical centers. As someone who is familiar with your condition and the type of surgery you require, your doctor can likely provide you with a list of several qualified facilities.
As you are deciding between different surgical centers, you should be sure to visit each one before making a final choice. You obviously want a facility that looks clean, presentable, and welcoming. You should also try to gauge whether the facility uses up-to-date technology and equipment. When you visit the surgery center, try to get a general feel for the facility’s basic level of organization. Is the space easy to navigate? Does it seem to be chaotic? Is it easy to locate a patient services department? Were you greeted and assisted by staff members? Were you offered a tour of the facility? These are all basic questions you can ask yourself on the initial visit.
The staff is an extremely important part of any surgical facility. Not only do you want to make sure that the surgical team operating on you is qualified and experienced, but you will likely be dealing with an administrative staff regarding matters of scheduling and insurance. They should be helpful, attentive, and willing to answer any questions you may have. If you ever feel rushed by the staff or get the impression that your needs are being overlooked, there is a strong possibility that the staff-to-patient ratio is subpar and you may want to keep looking for a facility with the proper amount of resources.
Depending on the type of surgery you will undergo, you may have to stay overnight in the surgical center. However, whether it is an inpatient or an outpatient facility, there should be a basic menu of amenities for the convenience of you and any family members or friends that come to support you. From a comfortable waiting room to a café to internet access, there are a variety of services that many facilities provide. Be sure to ask for a full list of amenities when you visit the facility and find out which are included in the cost of the procedure.
The moment your procedure is finished, the recovery process begins. Be sure to ask exactly what will happen from the time that your procedure ends to the time that you are released to go home. Will you be relocated to a recovery unit? Who will attend to you? Will the surgeon be there or will it be a different postoperative care team? How soon until you may be able to walk? How long should you expect to remain at the facility before going home? What arrangements should you make for a ride home? In addition to the period of time directly following surgery, ask about any postoperative rehabilitation services that the facility offers. Is there a physical therapy team? Will someone meet with you before you go home regarding wound care and other recovery considerations? Who can you contact once you are home if you have questions regarding your surgery or the recovery process?
Once you feel that all of your questions have been answered in detail and you feel completely comfortable with every aspect of a surgical center, you can feel confident in making a decision. Above all else, rely on your gut instinct and be sure it is a place you can confidently trust with your health.