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How to Easily Clarify Surgical Procedures to Patients

Heading to surgery is a frightful and stressful event for a patient. They can’t help but wonder if everything will be OK. But good patient education can improve understanding and reduce fear. Also, patient education can help them prepare for the surgery and stick to post-surgical instructions. In a recent study, the researchers found that better patient education can lead to higher patient satisfaction and reduce problems after surgery. 

Yet most physicians struggle to find a perfect way to educate their patients.

That’s why I decided to focus on the physician-patient communication gap in this blog post and show you ways to overcome it.  Here are three tips that will help you explain surgical procedures to your patients.

Be thorough

Surgical procedures are an everyday thing for HCPs but they are often confusing for the patients. Many pre-surgical instructions that patients must follow are not always carefully explained to the patients. Take the requirement of pre-surgical fasting, for example.

Patients are always told that they should not eat or drink prior to surgery but they are not always informed about the consequences of violating the code. Most of them believe that the reason for patient fasting is to avoid post-surgical sickness.

However, they don’t know that breaking the rule could lead to pulmonary aspiration, (entrance of food or drink into the lungs) which can be fatal. If patients were presented with that fact, they would be more motivated to comply with the given instructions, and would probably stick to the rule.

Be specific

Being precise with the instructions is important but it’s also important to be specific. It’s not enough to tell people that they should drink clear liquids as physicians always do. It’s important to specify what liquids exactly they can and cannot drink. The term light meal is also confusing for the patients. They may perceive a bag of fries as a light meal. That’s why it’s important to explain which food exactly are they allowed to eat.


Apart from being specific and meticulous, it’s also important to use visual aids during the conversation. 65% of the population are visual learners. They are more likely to remember things they see than those they hear. Adding visual tools to the conversation will make instructions more memorable and the info will stick in the patients’ minds longer than usual.

A whopping 80% of people can remember important data they’ve seen in a video months after viewing it. That’s why patient education videos are great tools for providing clarity and reducing fear. Playing a video explaining the procedure to patients will make the whole experience easier.  After they’ve seen a video about their procedure patients should be provided with a talk to clarify the details.  

Medical animations are just as useful after a surgical procedure. Visual instructions offer valuable information in a format that populations with low health literacy will easily understand. These videos elaborate on aftercare, and potential complications and describe in full the recovery phase.

Explain the Concept of Staying Ahead of Pain

After a surgical procedure, patients may be reluctant to take pain medication. Many of them are afraid of side effects and the risk of addiction. As a result, they end up waiting until the pain is acute and the prescribed medicine is less effective.

It’s important for patients to take their painkillers on time to reduce stress and improve the healing process. Proper education will reduce the hesitation and make patients take medication responsibly.

A proper education strategy will improve patient outcomes. So start your teaching session by using language perfect for individuals with low health literacy. Then make your data more memorable with medical animation.

Hope that this blog post will help you and your patients go through the surgical procedures with ease and more comfort. If you would like to receive more tips for your patient education strategy, make sure to sign up right here. I’ll be happy to help.