News | January 28, 2008

Patients Prep Harder for Vacation than for an Operation

January 29, 2008 - In today's information-rich environment, American consumers are stepping onto new car lots and into big box super stores more prepared than ever, but according to results of the American College of Surgeons’ (ACS) latest "On the Table" consumer survey, when it comes to needing an operation, patients are significantly less proactive in learning about the surgical procedure they will undergo.

The findings suggest that for patients, obtaining additional knowledge about their operation prior to the procedure could improve their overall experience and outcome.

The survey, which quantifies the lack of time consumers are likely to spend preparing for an operation versus preparing for other major life events (for instance, changing jobs, buying or leasing a new car, spending more than $1,000 on something for the home, or spending more than $1,000 on a vacation), demonstrates the need for the new book, “I Need an Operation... Now What? A Patient's Guide to a Safe and Successful Outcome,” from the ACS. The book, written by Thomas R. Russell, M.D., FACS, the executive director of the College, lays out the key things patients should consider before consenting to an operation; the questions they should ask their surgeon; and helpful pre- and post-operative tips to ensure they achieve the best results.

According to the survey, one in three Americans (32 percent) has had a surgical procedure within the past five years; one of two (51 percent) has bought or leased a new car; and three of five (62 percent) have spent more than $1,000 on something for their home (furniture, home entertainment, and so on). And while surgical patients spend an average of just one hour researching their surgical procedure or their surgeon, they spend significantly more time researching any of the following:

- Changing jobs (10 hours)
- Buying/leasing a new car (eight hours)
- Buying a big ticket item for their home valued at or less $1,000 (five hours)
- Planning a vacation less than or equal to $1,000 (four hours)

Even more shocking, more than one-third of Americans who had an operation in the last five years (36 percent) did not check their surgeons' credentials before having the procedure.

For more information: www.facs.org

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