Some time before your surgery, you will be asked to attend a
Pre-operative Assessment Clinic
The purpose of this is two-fold. It provides a detailed check on
your state of health and your suitability for the planned surgery.
It is intended to uncover and treat any potential problems and thus
prevent unplanned cancellations on the day of surgery itself. It is
also an opportunity for nursing staff to provide you with further
information about your procedure, what to expect on the day of
surgery and how to prepare for it.
Depending on the hospital and the type of procedure concerned,
this may take place at a dedicated pre-operative assessment clinic,
in an outpatient clinic, or on a hospital ward. Some hospitals
perform the pre-operative assessment over the telephone or via
email, which avoids the need for you to go to the hospital.
Happens at the POAC?
The preoperative assessment involves answering questions. You
may also have a physical examination and/or some medical tests. You
will also receive a lot of information about your surgical
The pre-operative staff already have information about you,
their questions are to help ensure that any significant changes in
your health or medication are picked up. The medical tests may
include blood pressure checks, blood tests to check your organs,
ECG (a tracing of your heart) and skin swabs.
Sometimes, the assessment reveals a problem - such as a urinary
tract infection or high blood pressure - that needs treating before
surgery. Should that be the case, your operation is likely to be
deferred until the problem has been resolved. POAC staff will
liaise with you and your GP as to the best way of sorting out the
POAC - the
Time and the Place for
At the POAC appointment, you will have another chance to discuss
the planned procedure. This will include information about the type
of anaesthetic recommended, how long the procedure will take, and
recovery after surgery. You should have the opportunity to ask any
questions you may have about your treatment. If you haven't already
done so, you may be asked to sign the consent form at this
The POAC is also the best time to ask questions about the day of
surgery itself. Hospitals vary in their guidelines and what they
may want to ask include:
What to bring on the day of
For example, clothes, dressing-gown and slippers (day surgery
units can be cold!), toiletries, medication, specific requirements
(things such as gluten-free snacks for afterwards may or may not be
available. The POAC is the time to find this out). Don't forget to
bring something to read or do (you may be waiting for a few hours).
Many hospitals allow mobile phones and tablets but some do not.
Dropping off and picking up
You are unlikely to be allowed to
drive post-operatively. You will therefore need some form of
transport to bring you to hospital and collect you afterwards. The
availability of hospital transport and the suitability of public
transport or taxis should all be discussed at PAC. If a friend or
family member is driving you, they may or may not be allowed to
stay with you throughout the day.
At the POAC, you should be given
very clear instructions as to when you should stop eating and
drinking on the day of your surgery. There should be a clear
hospital policy about food, clear drinks, drinks with milk in,
chewing gum and medication. Confusion about these areas can lead to
last minute cancellations.
All the staff appreciate that
patients would like to know exactly what time their operation is,
how long it will take and how long they - and their companions -
will have to stay in hospital. It is important to realise that
giving you exact timings is often impossible. Sometimes, it is only
possible to let you know if you are on a morning or an afternoon
list. On the day of surgery itself, the staff will keep you
informed as far as they can but it is impossible to know exactly
how long each individual procedure will take.