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Scared of surgery: What Should I Do? Patient Communities, Support and Information Can Help

News that you need surgery can make a patient feel isolated and out of control.  In truth though, millions of people undergo surgeries every year.  Being scared of surgery is a common experience and fear of medical treatment is common and understandable.
The U.S. Census listed that about 309 million people made up the 2010 United States population.  Carpool in your SUV with 5 other people and chances are fair that one of you had surgery.  
If you have to decide whether to get surgery, you should be able to speak with someone who has had an operation.  Discuss their experience, expectations, and feelings. How was their outcome? Do they have regrets?   Were they scared of surgery as well?  You might find support and comfort in making your own decision by discussing someone else’s path.
If no one close to you had a similar operation, patient communities online can help you find information, support, referrals, and comfort. That said, there is no guarantee the information online is 100% accurate or will completely match your own experience.  Read with a careful eye and confirm medical and legal information with a doctor, lawyer, or other credible source. 

I am Scared of Surgery, is There Any Alternative?

Many people go without surgery they need or want. In 2010, about one in three people worldwide had no chance to get adequate surgery. Over 2 billion people worldwide could not access surgery and world population at that time was about 6.9 billion people.
Just as we recommend speaking with someone who had the operation before, there is no shortage of people who cannot or do not get surgery. Speak with someone who declined surgery. How was their outcome and experience?

Fear of the Unknown Makes Many Scared of Surgery

You deserve to be treated with care and dignity before an operation. The first step to respecting patient rights and relieving stress is understanding the operation, it’s necessity, alternatives, risks, and benefits. 
A doctor must teach the patient enough about the surgery so the patient can make an informed and independent decision about the treatmentLaw requires informed consent of the patient before a doctor performs an operation.
Set up a pre-operative office appointment to discuss the operation with the surgeon. That discussion should help you to clearly see what should happen during the surgery. Be sure to discuss your fears and gauge your doctor’s responses. As much as a doctor must help put your fears in perspective, you must gauge whether you trust your surgeon. Do not be afraid to say “I don’t understand” or “please explain.” There is no shame in asking for a clear explanation before making serious decisions about your health. If you cannot get clear answers, you probably should get a second opinion. 

Is Surgery Necessary?

Surgery cannot be undone. It is a controlled injury and injuries never have certain outcomes. Ask your doctor what the medical literature says about how badly you need surgery.  For example, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study on broken arms, which showed surgery may not be necessary for certain injuries that are often treated surgically.  Specifically, researchers followed groups of patients with displaced fractures of the humerus (separations in the bone that connects the shoulder to the elbow) and found that “surgical and nonsurgical groups had similar outcomes, with no difference on measures of pain and comfort. But heart, respiratory and other complications were more common in the surgery group.” 

What Are the Risks of Surgery?

Be prepared to research your doctor and hospital carefully and only take risks you must.  Doctors are liable for putting patients at needless risk, which happens too frequently

I Signed a Waiver, Can I Still Sue for Malpractice?

Even if you sign a release to get surgery, you never consent to be a victim of medical mistakes, error, or malpractice. You may have signed a waiver that you accept the risks of surgery, but you are still legally entitled to medical care without unnecessary risk, error or wrongdoing.  

How Much Will Surgery Cost?

Make sure your insurance will cover the cost of surgery. Workers compensation and no fault pay for workplace injuries and car accident injuries, but be sure your doctor accepts those options for payment. 
An attorney can help coordinate your care and advocate for you. Injured patients are usually in a poor bargaining position against sophisticated and wealthy doctors and hospitals. 

Scared of Surgery: Should I Call a personal injury Attorney?

Yes. Your personal injury attorney will stay up to date with your care because medical treatment evidences how badly you were hurt. Accident victims who need surgery are often seriously hurt. You should feel comfortable speaking with a personal injury attorney about surgery, especially if you are scared of surgery.  Your attorney will not interfere with your medical care but will be a compassionate and sympathetic ear and advisor.