Some health problems are urgent or serious. The decision to have surgery needs to be made quickly and there are often no alternatives to surgery. This is called urgent or emergency surgery.

Most health problems aren’t urgent or serious and you can choose whether or not to have surgery. This is called elective surgery. The more optional or elective an operation is, the more time you should take to make a decision.

Most operations go well, most patients recover well and most patients are satisfied with the outcome of their operation. Sometimes a complication happens or the recovery is difficult or the outcome is not as good as expected.

In deciding to have an operation you should consider:

  1. How bad is the problem? How much is it affecting your ability to eat, sleep, work and enjoy life?
  2. How likely is it that the operation will fix the problem?
  3. How hard is it to recover from the operation?
  4. What is the worst thing that could happen if I have the operation?
  5. What is the worst thing that could happen if I don’t have the operation?
  6. Are there any non-surgical alternatives and how likely are they to work?

In deciding whether to recommend an operation for a patient, a surgeon weighs up the same questions and recommends an operation if the operation is more likely to benefit the patient than harm the patient.

Informed Consent

Our aim is that on the day of surgery you are happy that you understand what is happening and that you feel that all your questions and concerns have been addressed. During your consultation in the clinic with Dr Clancy she will explain:

  • the reason for the problem,
  • what treatment options are available,
  • what treatment option is recommended,
  • the benefit of the treatment, how likely it is to be successful,
  • what the treatment involves, how long it takes to recover, what it will feel like,
  • the risks of the treatment,
  • the risks of having no treatment or having an alternative treatment,
  • choice of where to have treatment including costs and waiting times.

At the end of this consultation you will be given written information. You will be offered time to consider the decision, including another consultation if needed. You are welcome to contact the practice nurse if you have more questions or to make another appointment with Dr Clancy.

Choosing a hospital

You can choose to have surgery in a private hospital or a public hospital. The quality of care is the same. The differences are in cost, waiting times, choice of date for surgery and choice of surgeon. Generally, public hospitals are very inexpensive with little out-of-pocket costs and longer waiting times. Private hospitals have shorter waiting times and higher out of pocket costs.

Help with making decisions

You may find it helpful to:

  • Come to your appointment with a relative or friend,
  • Take information to read,
  • Talk to friends or relatives who had the same problem or operation,
  • Take time to think about your decision,
  • Make another appointment to see the surgeon again and bring a list of questions,
  • Talk to the practice nurse or your GP,
  • Ask for a second opinion if needed. Your surgeon or your GP can arrange a second opinion.