Staying at the Hospital

If you have to stay at the hospital after a surgical procedure, this is what you can expect.

Your Hospital Stay

If you are admitted to the Hospital

Once you have settled into your hospital room, a member of your healthcare team will continue to monitor your vital signs and surgical dressing.

You will frequently be asked to cough and take deep breaths to help keep your lungs clear. You will be given a device called an incentive spirometer which helps you breathe in and out correctly. Using the spirometer every two hours can help keep your lungs clear and prevent pneumonia or other problems that can slow your recovery.

You will be encouraged to start moving and walking, often times on the same day of surgery.

Your Safety

Your safety is important to us; call the nurse for assistance when you need to:

  • Get out of bed
  • Walk to the bathroom
  • Sit up in the chair
  • Walk in the hall

Preventing Complications

Having surgery can put you at an increased risk for blood clots, infections and pneumonia. There are several ways you can work with your care team to help minimize these risks.

Blood Clots: Blood clots are the most common complication after surgery. Your surgeon may prescribe measures to prevent blood clots from forming in your leg veins. These measures may include special support hose, inflatable leg governs, ankle pump exercises, and blood thinners.

Infection: To reduce your risk of getting an infection:

  • Wash your hands often, especially after you have gone to the bathroom.
  • Your care team should be washing their hands or using hand gel before and after giving you any care. Please ask them if they have washed their hands.
  • Your care team may wear gloves, masks or gowns during your care.
  • Ask family/friends to stay home if they are ill.

Lung Congestion / Pneumonia: To avoid lung congestion after surgery, you will be asked to breathe deeply and cough frequently.


Most patients stay in the hospital 2-3 days after surgery. Some patients may need more time to recover. Before you are discharged, your nurse will review your care information with you. You will be expected to tell staff:

  • How you will care for you incision
  • What you will do to prevent a blood clot
  • Your activity restrictions
  • Instructions for medications
  • When your follow-up appointment is scheduled

Managing Pain

Everyone has pain and discomfort after surgery, but it is usually different from the kind of pain you felt before surgery. Pain before surgery was chronic or long lasting, while the surgical pain will be acute and shorter in duration.

There are treatments to prevent or control post-op pain. It is important to try to control your pain rather than allow it to become uncomfortable. These six steps can help:


1. Ask the doctor or nurse what to expect

  • Will there be much pain after surgery?
  • Where will it occur?
  • How long is it likely to last?

2. Discuss your pain control options

  • Talk with your doctor about pain control methods that have worked well for you before.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor about any allergies to medicines that you have.
  • Be sure to ask about side effects that may occur.
  • Talk with your doctors and nurses about the medicines that you take for other health problems.

3. Work with your care team to develop a pain control plan

  • You can begin planning for pain control prior to surgery with your healthcare team. When your pain control plan is complete, make note of your plan and refer to it after your surgery.


4. Ask for pain relief medications when the pain initially begins

  • If you know your pain will worsen when you start walking or doing breathing exercises, take pain medicine first. It’s harder to ease pain once it has taken hold.

5. Help your care team measure your pain

  • You will frequently be asked to rate your pain on the 0-10 pain scale. This tells the doctor and nurse whether the pain medicine is working or if it needs to be adjusted or changed. Everyone responds to pain differently. It is important to keep your pain at a controlled level.

6. Tell the doctor or nurse about any pain that won’t go away

  • Your doctor will give you a prescription for pain medicines to help control your pain. Take your pain medicine when you start having pain. Moving around can also help reduce pain.