I have been asked many times, why does a surgeon need to see a patient prior to surgery in their office after the initial consultation in the hospital? Well truth be told many patients and family members are so overwhelmed at the notion of needing a cardiac surgery intervention that they often times block out, or forget, anything we tell them during the initial encounter.
When I first meet a patient I typically try to ease their fears about what their condition is and what to expect overall following surgery. I will always give them a good idea of how successful surgery will be often quoting them the true risk. Once they hear that number the anxiety level drops significantly.
Giving some time to let things sink in is another of the reasons I like to let people go home and come back to see me later. During this time I encourage the patient to write down questions they may have. Speak to friends and family to get insight about the procedure they are going to undergo. And finally, do their own research on what it means to have open heart surgery and the recovery associated to it. It is a really good idea to write down all questions and concerns. You will quickly forget them once the surgeon walks into the exam room.
Another reason to have a return visit is for patients to have a better recollection of what the details of the procedures are and the post operative recovery. I always go over the risks, benefits and alternatives in detail. I also describe the procedure and recovery following surgery. Then I finally give the patient, and family, time to ask questions. All of these are key to establishing a good relationship with a our patients.