Checklist: getting ready

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Your surgical team will do everything possible to make you feel comfortable and to keep you safe during your operation.

You can help — follow all the instructions you’re given before your surgery.

What to do

  • Follow directions about eating and drinking.
  • Update your durable power of attorney for health care. In the unlikely event that you cannot speak for yourself, it will let your doctors and loved ones know your wishes. You should also fill out an advance health care directive that allows you to choose someone to make decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
  • Certain medications (including aspirin, ibuprofen, certain vitamins and herbs, and warfarin or clopridogrel) affect the blood's ability to form clots. You may be asked to stop using these or other blood-thinning medications before surgery. If you take these medications for critical reasons, such as a cardiac stent, you may need to make adjustments. Be sure you discuss this with your surgical team, and know what is recommended for you. Changes may be needed 1 to 2 weeks before your surgery, so ask your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Let your family or friends know how long you will be in surgery and in the recovery area, and where they can wait during your surgery. Remember, this is only a rough estimate. Surgery can take much longer, or less time than planned.
  • Remove any nail polish.
  • Do not wear jewelry. Remove your earrings, body piercings, and even wedding rings. These can cause electrical shock or burns.
  • Arrange for someone to take you home when you’ve been discharged from the hospital or surgery center. Find out if you will need extra help at home, or if someone should be with you overnight.

What to bring

  • a list of any remaining questions or concerns that you may have
  • an up-to-date list of all prescription and nonprescription medications you’re taking
  • what you will need after surgery (such as your inhaler if you have asthma, or a cane if you use one)
  • if you have sleep apnea, your continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask

Do not bring money or jewelry. Leave those and other valuables at home.

If your child needs surgery, learn how you can help your child be calm and prepared.

For our Northern California members

We offer an online tool to help you prepare for surgery. Prepare for Your Procedure – from EMMI™A service of the Kaiser Permanente Permanente Medical Group. Please review the privacy policy and terms of use as they differ from those of this site. is an interactive online program that shows you what to expect for your procedure, so you can be better prepared.

The EMMI program is available for a variety of surgical procedures, both for adults and children. You’ll learn what to expect before, during, and after surgery, get information forms, find patient safety information, and more.

For our Southern California members

One way to feel more comfortable with upcoming surgery is to learn about your medical center. Click the links below to see virtual tours of some of our medical facilities.

Downey Medical Center —see our medical center, including patient rooms, operating room, pre-op, and post-anesthesia facilities.

Irvine Medical Center — tour our medical center, including surgery pre-op, operating room, and the labor and delivery operating room.

Los Angeles Medical Center — see our medical center, including the cardiac operating room, labor and delivery operating room, pre-op area, and general surgery operating room.

Ontario Vineyard Medical Offices — see a view of our surgery center.

Panorama City Medical Center — tour our medical center, including our operating room and labor and delivery operating room.

Expecting a baby? Take virtual tours of obstetric facilities, including several labor and delivery operating rooms.

Reviewed by: Margaret Mentakis, MD, April 2016
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

© 2016 Kaiser Permanente

Surgery and your safety

Learn about the steps you and your surgery team will take to ensure your safety.

After your surgery

You’ll find patient instructions to help you have a safer and more comfortable recovery.

Find online communities and support groups to help you cope with challenges.

When a child needs surgery

Children needing surgery want comfort and answers. Learn how to get your child prepared for surgery.