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AHRQ Announces New Brochure To Help People Make Decisions about Surgery

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Press Release Date: December 28, 2005

HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality today released a new publication, Having Surgery? What You Need to Know, to help patients make informed decisions when planning for surgery.

The brochure suggests questions to help patients obtain needed information, including how and where their operation will be performed, what kind of anesthesia will be used, if non-surgical medical treatment and watchful waiting are options, possible risks of not having the surgery, potential risks and expected benefits if they have the surgery, and how long recovery is expected to take.

"In today's increasingly complex medical environment, patients would be well advised to learn as much about their surgery as possible and to discuss all of the options with their doctors and surgeons," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "People tend to be more satisfied with their care when they know why they need surgery, whether effective options exist, which surgeons and hospitals are most qualified to perform their operation, and the potential risks and expected benefits."

Other questions in the brochure help patients determine whether and how much of the cost of the operation will be covered by their insurance; whether a second opinion is required and/or covered; how they can learn the surgeon's qualifications for and experience with their particular procedure; and how to find out how many times the procedure has been performed in the hospital the surgeon suggests, or in other hospitals if patients have a choice of where to go for the operation.

The publication is part of a series of health care resources from AHRQ to help people be more active in making informed decisions that can help them obtain high-quality health care.

The brochure and the Spanish-language version, Va a tener una cirugia? Lo que usted necesita saber, are available online, respectively, at and at To order free single copies, call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at (800) 358-9295 or send an E-mail to

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-427-1539 or (301) 427-1865.


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