Thursday, October 13, 2005
Planning what to do after surgery

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital

Some surgery is emergency in nature. There is no way to predict it. There is no way to prepare for it. Broken bones after an accident are an example. An appendectomy is another example. However, there are some surgical procedures that are called elective surgery. That means you can select a convenient time to get the surgery done. There are several things to remember about these kinds of procedures. The first has to do with making sure that you want the procedure. Some elective procedures may not be necessary. You may desire them. However, you may not always need them. A good example of this is cosmetic surgery. There may be times when you are not sure if you want to have the surgery. In those instances, you might want to seek a second opinion before the surgery. That will likely convince you that the decision to have the surgery is the correct one. However, sometimes, it will convince you that maybe you should wait. A second thing to think about has to do with arranging for care after the surgery. One aspect of that has to do with same day surgery. This is very common. It almost always is associated with medication to sedate you. After this kind of surgery, you should not drive home. You should not be home alone later that day. This means that you need to make transport arrangements. It means that you need to make arrangements for someone to be home with you. Sometimes people come to the hospital for procedures like this with no transport arrangements. It is not fair to the hospital to expect them to release the patient to a cab driver. That is not good medical care. It is not fair to the cab driver to expect to handle any side effects that might occur. It is not prudent for the patient to expect this to be sufficient. Some medications have delayed side effects. Being home alone after the procedure is not a good idea for this reason. You should have an adult available to help you. That person should have the contact numbers for your doctor. A physician schedules surgery at the time of your office visit. He/she takes a complete history of your medical problems at that time. He/she does a complete physical at that time. The surgical date is then selected. Usually it is one to two weeks away. Some patients may need to make arrangements with work for elective surgery. Some patients may need to make arrangements with family for elective surgery. When that happens, they may request the surgery at a later date. Such a request will make it more complicated for them. The history and physical that are done in the office are only considered current for 30 days. If you decide to schedule your surgery more than 30 days later, you will need another office visit to make sure that nothing has changed. Patients are not always aware of this. They think that the physician is just trying to charge them for another office visit. That is not true. The repeat visit is a requirement by the Federal Government for Medicare patients. It, therefore, becomes the expected standard for all other patients as well. Picking a date for surgery is not always as simple as it seems. Patients should think about these things if they are told that they need a surgical procedure.

Dr. Anthony Policastro is medical director at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.

Nanticoke Memorial Hospital offers flu shots Oct. 25, 27
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will be offering flu shots to the public on Tuesday, Oct. 25 (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and Thursday, Oct. 27 (3-7p.m.) in the Nanticoke Stein Highway building next to County Bank. There will be 500 doses per day allotted. The cost of the vaccination will be $10. The vaccine is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18. The influenza vaccine is recommended for elderly and high-risk individuals. Healthy working adults may also benefit from the influenza. Large outbreaks of influenza usually do not occur before December in the USA and reach a peak between late December and early March and many continue into the spring. For additional information contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, extension 8784. No appointment or pre-registration is required.

Suicide prevention conference Oct. 18-19
Suicide is a serious public health problem that devastates individuals, families, and communities. It is the 11th leading cause of death among Americans. Completed suicides are only part of the problem. More people are hospitalized or treated and released as a result of suicide attempts than are fatally injured. While suicide is often viewed as a response to a single stressful event, it is a far more complicated issue. Suicide results from complex interactions between biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors. In an ongoing attempt to reduce suicide, Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health is proud to sponsor Delaware's first annual Suicide Prevention Conference entitled The Golden Link: Creating Pathways for Survival. "Suicide evokes difficult and uncomfortable reactions in most people," says Renata Henry, division director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. "Too often, victims are blamed and surviving friends and family members are stigmatized. Consequently, suicide is shrouded in secrecy. This limits the amount of available information that is crucial to suicide prevention activities." Research over the past several decades has uncovered a wealth of information on the causes of suicide and the strategies to prevent it. Many studies have identified factors that either increase or reduce the likelihood that a person will attempt or commit suicide. The conference is a chance for individuals and community partners to gather together and use this information to develop and implement prevention programs to reduce the numbers of attempted and completed suicides in Delaware. The conference is free and takes place at the Dover Sheraton Hotel on Oct. 18 and 19. Oct. 18 program will be focused on youth and youth suicide and is in the evening from 5-8 pm. Oct. 19's program is focused on best suicide prevention practices and is during the day from 8-4 p.m. CMEs will be offered at the day-long event. The director of the American Association of Suicidology, Dr. Lanny Berman, will be the Keynote Speaker. Eve Moscicki from the National Institute of Mental Health and Dr. Phil Rodgers from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will also be presenting. Furthermore, a panel of suicide survivors will join us to share their stories. If you are interested in attending, call Roberta Fishgold at 302-654-6833.