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Survey Says: Patients Prep Harder for Vacation than for an Operation

New book from American College of Surgeons helps patients do the research necessary to achieve the best results

CHICAGO, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In today's information-rich environment, American consumers are stepping onto new car lots and into big box super stores more prepared than ever. But according to results of the American College of Surgeons' (ACS) latest "On the Table" consumer survey, when it comes to needing an operation, patients are significantly less proactive in learning about the surgical procedure they will undergo. The findings suggest that for patients, obtaining additional knowledge about their operation prior to the procedure could improve their overall experience and outcome.

The survey, which quantifies the lack of time consumers are likely to spend preparing for an operation versus preparing for other major life events (for instance, changing jobs, buying or leasing a new car, spending more than $1,000 on something for the home, or spending more than $1,000 on a vacation), demonstrates the need for the new book, I Need an Operation... Now What? A Patient's Guide to a Safe and Successful Outcome, from the ACS. The book, written by Thomas R. Russell, MD, FACS, the executive director of the College, lays out the key things patients should consider before consenting to an operation; the questions they should ask their surgeon; and helpful pre- and post-operative tips to ensure they achieve the best results.

According to the survey, one in three Americans (32 percent) has had a surgical procedure within the past five years; one of two (51 percent) has bought or leased a new car; and three of five (62 percent) have spent more than $1,000 on something for their home (furniture, home entertainment, and so on). And while surgical patients spend an average of just one hour researching their surgical procedure or their surgeon, they spend significantly more time researching any of the following:

-- Changing jobs (10 hours)

-- Buying/leasing a new car (Eight hours)

-- Buying a big ticket item for their home >= $1,000 (Five hours)

-- Planning a vacation >= $1,000 (Four hours)

Even more shocking, more than one-third of Americans who had an operation in the last five years (36 percent) did not check their surgeons' credentials before having the procedure.

"Being an informed consumer is important, but being an informed patient is even more so. A surgical procedure should not be something that is done to you while you passively sit by --- patients should know that they can improve their odds for a good outcome if they do their homework upfront --- just as they do when they're buying a car, researching a vacation, or purchasing a house," said Dr. Russell. "This book provides patients with the basic strategies and information necessary to help them gain peace of mind about how to prepare and what to expect when they have an operation."

"I Need An Operation... Now What? is not only practical, but also highly respectful and educational. Patients can use this book to navigate through their surgical experience while we all push for a better organized health care delivery system," said Richard J. Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.

"Most importantly, this book urges you, the patient, to take control and become fully informed about your options," added Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health.

More information on I Need an Operation... Now What? A Patient's Guide to a Safe and Successful Outcome, which is published by Thomson Healthcare and the American College of Surgeons, is available in an electronic press kit at The book is also available for purchase at retail outlets and Web retailers nationwide, and from the American College of Surgeons' Web site at

(Potential Sidebar) 10 Questions Surgical Patients Should Ask:

-- Is this operation absolutely necessary, and what could happen to me if I choose to forego it?

-- What are the likely long-term effects of this procedure?

-- Are you board certified in the surgical procedure you'll be performing on me?

-- Do you perform this procedure on a regular basis?

-- Do you plan to do this procedure in a hospital or in your office?

-- How do other patients with health factors and surgical needs such as mine fare under your care?

-- What are the potential complications I could face, and are you prepared to handle them?

-- What is the risk of infection?

-- Could I die?

-- What is my role as I recover from this procedure?

About the "On the Table" Survey

Commissioned by the American College of Surgeons, the nationwide telephone survey of 1,003 registered voters was conducted by KRC Research from January 2 - 10, 2008, to gauge public opinions on surgery preparedness. The survey's weighted margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.1% at the 95% confidence level.

About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 72,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit

About Thomson Healthcare

Thomson Healthcare is the leading provider of decision support solutions that help organizations across the healthcare industry improve clinical and business performance. Thomson Healthcare products and services help clinicians, hospitals, employers, health plans, government agencies, and pharmaceutical companies manage the cost and improve the quality of healthcare.

Thomson Healthcare is a part of The Thomson Corporation, a provider of value-added information, software tools and applications to professionals in the fields of healthcare, law, tax, accounting, scientific research, and financial services. The Corporation's common shares are listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC). For more information, visit (

SOURCE American College of Surgeons
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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