Preparing for Surgery


Use this guide to learn how to prepare for surgery at RWJ Hamilton.

1. Pre-Admission Testing
Your doctor’s office will contact RWJ Hamilton to arrange your surgery. If your doctor requires pre-admission testing (PAT), we will call you to schedule an appointment. It's important that your doctor has your correct phone number so we can contact you.

Pre-admission testing can include blood work, EKG, x-rays and a health assessment. The PAT department is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Please allow two hours for this visit.

2. Prior to Surgery
You will be called the day before your surgery between 2 and 5 p.m. If your surgery is scheduled on a Monday you will be called on Friday; if your surgery is scheduled after a holiday, you will be called before the holiday.

During the call, a nurse will tell you where and when you should arrive for surgery. He or she will also ask you some general health questions and explain:

  • When you can no longer have food or drink

  • What items to bring to the hospital

  • Which medications you may take

If you have developed any symptoms — particularly respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, sneezing, runny nose) — please notify the nurse during this call. Also tell your physician. If necessary, your surgery may have to be postponed.

3. Day of Surgery
Upon arrival to the hospital, check in at the main lobby of the Outpatient Services building. You will be directed to a pre-operative holding bay.

  • You will change into a hospital gown and an identification bracelet will applied to your wrist.

  • The pre-operative nurse will conduct a brief health assessment and brief examination including temperature, pulse and blood pressure, and answer any questions you may have.

  • An intravenous line will be started to give fluids and medications.

  • An anesthesiologist will discuss what type of anesthesia is best suited for you.

  • If applicable, the surgeon will mark the operative site.

  • You will be provided all consent forms for your signature.

Once all the above has been completed, your family/friends may join you as you wait for surgery. In the interest of maintaining all our patient’s privacy and comfort we request only two visitors at a time.

4. The Surgery
The surgical team will arrive in the pre-operative area, introduce themselves and escort you into the operating room. You will be assisted onto the operating room table. A nurse will connect you to a heart monitor, blood pressure cuff and add clothespin-like clip to your finger.

The operating room looks very much like an operating room you see on television. You will see people with gowns, masks and head-covers on. The room is filled with equipment.

5. After Surgery
From the operating room, you will be transferred to either a bed (if you are admitted to the hospital) or a stretcher (if you are going home the same day).

Recovery from surgery takes place in either the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) or Same Day Surgery Unit, depending on the type of anesthesia you received. Recovery time can be 1.5 to 2 hours of observation in the PACU. This time allows the physicians and nurses to properly monitor you as you recover from anesthesia and provide necessary pain medications.

The first phase of recovery is to allow the patient to awaken from anesthesia in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, therefore this area is limited to staff only. The only exception to this policy is to allow one parent of a child under the age of 10 to be present after a child awakens.

If you are admitted to the hospital, you will be transported to your room from PACU.

If you are going home, following the first phase of recovery, you will move to the second phase for further observation; light nourishment will be provided. At this time, your family/friends may join you. Visitors will be limited to two people. Prior to discharge, the same day surgery nurse will spend some time with you to:

  • Review your instructions and provide you with a copy of them to take home

  • Give you your prescriptions

  • Answer all of your questions.

You will be escorted out of the hospital in a wheelchair. All patients must have a designated driver to take them home, as it is unsafe to drive after receiving any type of anesthetic or pain medication.

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