Things to Consider Before Your Operation

Download and print information to help you plan for your surgery.

Advance Directives

If you have not completed a Living Will of Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care decisions, and you wish to, please do so before admission. Bring notarized copies to the hospital for your record.

Virginia Mason supports each patient's rights to determine his or her care. Upon admission, you will be asked if you have an advanced directive. If you have an advanced directive, we will make a copy for your medical record. If you do not, we will provide you with a brochure with more information.

Mental Health Advance Directive

No Smoking Policy

Group Health and Virginia Mason do not allow smoking on the hospital grounds. If you smoke, we strongly recommend that you stop smoking before your operation. Smoking has a negative effect on your lung function. It reduces your ability to fight infection and robs your body of oxygen. If you are interested, ask your nurse or physician about tobacco cessation programs.

Planning for Your Return Home

Your surgeon will decide whether you will go home on the same day as your operation or stay in the hospital. Sometimes this decision is not made until the day of your operation. Please discuss this with your surgeon.

You will need to have someone available to drive you home after your operation. For your safety, you will also need a responsible adult to stay with you at least 24 hours after your operation.

Please do not do any of the following for 24 hours after receiving anesthesia:

  • Drive
  • Drink alcoholic beverages
  • Travel alone
  • Operate heavy machinery
  • Sign any legal papers
  • Be responsible for another person or child

Ask your surgeon what limitations to expect after your operation. Think carefully about help you will need at home and make arrangements for this before your operation. Plan for how you will get to the bathroom, move up and down stairs, have your meals and care for yourself.

Before you leave the hospital, a return visit for follow-up care will be scheduled for you.

If you need temporary housing, please see our available accommodations.

Eating and Drinking Instructions

Please follow the instructions below carefully. They are intended to reduce your chance of vomiting, which may cause severe lung complications. If these instructions are not followed, your surgery will be delayed or canceled.

Adult Patients

  • Eat no food after midnight prior to surgery.
  • Between midnight and two hours prior to surgery check-in time, you may have eight ounces of black coffee or tea (no cream, milk or sugar) or water. Nothing else is allowed.
  • Do not use chewing gum and throat lozenges on the morning of surgery.
  • Patients with diabetes who have a blood sugar less than 100 on morning of surgery may have eight ounces of clear apple juice instead of the above liquids.

Infants and Children

  • Your child should have no solid food or formula after midnight the night before his/her operation.
  • Infants (up to 12 months) are allowed breast milk up to four hours prior to surgery check-in. Formula is allowed up to six hours prior to surgery check-in.
  • Children may have eight ounces of clear apple juice or water up to two hours prior to check-in. Nothing else is allowed.

Learn more about planning for surgery.