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Patient Guide

Preparing for Your Surgery

If you are taking aspirin or blood thinner (such as Aleve, Coumadin, Lovenox, Motrin, Naproxen or Plavix), tell your physician, as these may need to be stopped before your surgery.

If you develop a cold, persistent cough, sore throat, fever or other illnesses within two days of surgery, please notify your physician.

Eat a light dinner the evening before your surgery and do not drink alcoholic beverages. DO NOT eat or drink anything, including water, chewing gum and mints after midnight the night before your surgery.

If you will be staying overnight, please bring any items that will make your stay comfortable, including any personal hygiene items you may need.

Make arrangements to have a ride home after your surgery or hospital stay with a responsible adult. Buses and taxis are NOT acceptable. In most cases, you are not allowed to drive the day of surgery or until you have clearance from your doctor. If you are scheduled for general anesthesia or sedation, arrange for an adult to stay with you the first night following your return home from the hospital. A member of our staff will provide you with detailed discharge instructions so that both of you and anyone helping to care for you at home will know what to expect and what to do to keep you safe and comfortable.

The Day of Surgery

Please arrive one hour before your scheduled procedure, unless your physician or one of our nurses instructs you otherwise.

You may bathe or shower (use antibacterial soap and brush your teeth before coming to the hospital. We advise that you DO NOT wear eye make-up and remove all body-piercing and jewelry.

There is very little you need to bring with to the hospital. You will want to remember your eyeglasses, contacts, dentures, hearing aids, and other personal items which will make you comfortable during your stay. Bring a case for glasses, contacts, and/or dentures.

Bring all medications that you currently take including over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements. You may take any required medications the day of surgery as advised by your physician. Always take your blood pressure medicine with a small sip of water, unless your physician instructs you otherwise.

You may wish to bring a book or other reading materials. You may bring your own sleepwear, robe, non-skid slippers, makeup and other items that will make you feel comfortable. Bring a change of comfortable, loose clothing to wear home when you are discharged. If you are staying overnight, the hospital will provide you with a hospital gown, warm socks/slippers and personal hygiene items including toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and powder.

In addition to anything your physician may ask you to bring in, please bring your insurance card, a photo ID such as a driver’s license, and any other documents that will be useful in the registration and billing process. For example, you should bring in any referral or authorization form that your primary care physician has given you indicating the need for the services you will receive.

You may be required to pay your hospital bill prior to service at the registration/admitting area; therefore, please bring a form of payment if your insurance company requires a co-pay and or deductible.  Cash, checks and all major credit cards are accepted.

Don’t bring valuables such as rings and other jewelry. Small amounts of cash for vending machines and incidentals are sufficient.

Bring a copy of your Advance Directives. If you do not have one, we can provide you with information.

After you are admitted, a nurse will prepare you for your surgery and complete essential paperwork.

During your surgery, your family and friends can wait in the Front Lobby Waiting area or in your room if you are staying overnight.

After surgery, the time you spend in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) will depend on the type of procedure and your response to the anesthesia. Visitors will be restricted during this time, but your nurse will keep them informed. Your condition will be monitored by a registered nurse or anesthesiologist. When you are awake and stable, you will be transferred to the ambulatory “sit up” area until you are ready to go home or to the inpatient care unit if you will require an overnight stay. During Phase II Recovery, you will be allowed to visit with family and friends. If staying overnight, the hospital staff will notify your family of your room number and direct phone numbers so they may visit you when you are ready to receive visitors. Your length of stay will depend on the type of procedure and your physician’s instructions. At all times during your inpatient stay, you will have specially trained registered nurses available to provide for your needs and care.

If you need to cancel your surgery, please notify your physician and South Texas Spine & Surgical Hospital as soon as possible.

Patient Rights and Responsibilities

While you are a patient at The Spine Hospital, you, your doctor and the hospital staff form a partnership focused on meeting your healthcare needs. In order for this partnership to be effective, it is important for you to know what to expect of us and what we expect of you. Our shared expectations are expressed in our Patient Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

You and your family have the right:

  • To considerate and respectful care.
  • To be well-informed about your illness, possible treatments, and likely outcome and to discuss this information with your physician.
  • To consent or refuse a treatment, as permitted by law.
    If you refuse a recommended treatment, you will receive other needed and available care.
  • To expect statements about pain will be believed and that your pain will be managed appropriately.
  • To remain free from restraints unless medically or behaviorally necessary to ensure a safe environment of care for you and others.
  • To receive care in a safe setting and be free from all forms of abuse or harassment and to be provided protective services as requested
    or required.
  • To ask or be informed of the existence of business relationships among the hospital, educational institutions, and other health care providers or payers which may influence your care or treatment.
  • To appoint a health care agent to speak in your behalf if you loose the ability to communicate your wishes regarding possible treatment alternatives and to expect that your advance directive will be followed.
  • To auditory and visual privacy to the extent possible with recognition of your personal dignity.
  • To expect that your medical record will be held in the highest confidentiality and that only individuals involved in your care or those monitoring its quality will read your medical record.
  • To expect equal medical treatment regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, handicap, sexual orientation, martial status, gender or economic status.
  • To know the identity and professional status of individuals providing care and services and which physician or other practitioners are responsible for your care.
  • To be told of realistic care alternatives when hospital care is no longer appropriate.
  • To consent to or decline to take part in research affecting your care.
  • If you choose not to participate, you will receive the most effective care the hospital otherwise provides.
  • To know about hospital rules that affect you and your treatments as well as information about charges and payment methods.
  • To know about and access hospital resource such as social work, pastoral care or the Ethics Committee that can help resolve questions and concerns about your hospital stay and care.
  • To file a grievance or lodge a complaint while a patient at this hospital without fear or reprisal.
  • To review your medical records and have the information explained, except when restricted by law.
  • To have access to an interpreter by verbal, written or signed communication when you do not speak the predominant language of the community.

You and your family have the responsibility to:

  • Provide accurate and complete information. This includes complaints or symptoms, past or current illnesses, hospitalizations, current medications (to include herbal or alternative treatments), allergy to antibiotics or drugs (e.g., penicillin barbiturates), pain and previous methods of relief, and other matters relating to your health, to include unexpected changes. This includes also any spiritual, religious and/or cultural values as well as lifestyle choices that may affect your treatment.
  • Participate actively in decisions about treatment: To let us know if you have questions or concerns about your care. To follow the treatment your doctors and nurses have worked out with you. To give the hospital a copy of your Living Will and/or Medical Power of Attorney if you have one.
  • Avoid lost time and resources: To keep all scheduled appointments. If you cannot keep an appointment, please cancel it 24 hours in advance if possible.
  • Assist in the management of your pain: To assist your health care team by letting them know when your pain first begins and when treatment provides no relief. Do not hesitate to discuss your pain options and fears with the staff.
  • Show respect and consideration: To follow rules and regulations affecting patient care and conduct. To assist in the control of noise and the number of visitors. To honor the dignity, worth and value of other people and to respect the property of others and this medical facility. To refrain from smoking within this hospital.
  • Safeguard your valuables: To leave valuables at home, if possible. Valuables can be secured for you by the hospital if necessary.
  • Provide compliments, complaints, suggestions: To assist the hospital in providing the best possible care by reporting compliments, complaints or concerns and make recommendation for improvement. If you believe any of your rights have been or may be violated, please let us know so we can assist you as soon as possible.
  • Settle financial obligations: To contact the hospital business office for assistance and information on payment of any hospital expenses.

Consent for Treatment

You will be asked to sign a consent-to-treatment form, which gives permission for the physician and facility to care for you. There will be other forms that will need to be completed in order for your processing to begin. Many of these forms are used to re-verify information so that we can ensure your safety in the hospital. While we understand that you may have completed similar documents at your physician’s office, the hospital must also complete the same in order to process your procedure and, if necessary, your extended stay at the hospital. If the patient is a minor, a parent or legal guardian must sign these forms. Any member of the hospital staff will be glad to help you to fully understand the consent process prior to your surgery or pain procedure.

Advance Directives

Every patient is asked to participate in a discussion affecting his care. By Federal Law, the Advance Directive is available to every patient and should be a part of your medical record. As a competent adult, you have the right to accept or refuse any medical treatment. “Competent” means you understand your condition and the results your decisions may have. As long as you are competent, you are the only person that can decide what medical treatment you can receive. You doctors will give you information and advice about the pros and cons of different kinds of treatment, but only you can choose whether to say “yes” or “no”. You can say “no” even if the treatment you refuse might keep you alive longer and even if your doctor or your family wants you to have it.

If you already have an Advance Directive, bring it with you to the hospital. If you need additional information about Advance Directives, please ask any member of the hospital staff during the pre-registration process.

What are the types of Advance Directives?

A durable power of attorney for health care allows that you name a “patient advocate” to act for you and carry out your wishes when you are unable to express your wishes; and a living will that allows you to state your wishes in writing regarding future care, but does not name a patient advocate.

How can I obtain an Advance Directive?

Ask a member of the hospital staff to assist you. They will provide you information necessary to execute an Advance Directive. Legal advice is not required, but if you wish, your attorney can also help you prepare a document. The law does not allow hospital personnel to witness these documents, so you will need to make other arrangements to complete the requirement. When you are admitted to the hospital, you will be asked about Advance Directives and be given a brochure about Advance Directives, also known as living wills and durable powers of attorney. If you have any questions concerning this matter, or would like assistance in obtaining such a document, please ask your nurse.

Anesthesia

If you require anesthesia, your doctor and anesthesiologist will talk with you and review your medical history. They will help you understand and choose from the variety of anesthetic options available to you. If you have any questions or special needs, please feel free to ask your doctor or nurse to clarify them for you before the day of your procedure.

Discharge planning

Your discharge planning begins at the time of your admission to the hospital. These plans include: provisions for rehabilitation, assistance with activities of daily living, nursing home placement and other healthcare needs. The Case Manager will be happy to assist you if you have any questions related to preparations being made for your discharge from the hospital. As with all your healthcare decisions, our Case Manager wants you to be actively involved and, ultimately, to make your own choices with regard to selecting providers of services you will use after discharge from the hospital.

Your nurse or the hospital Case Manager will give you information about various options you have when making decisions about after discharge care, however, we are prohibited from selecting a provider of such services for you.

In many cases, your doctor may recommend a specific provider for you that he/she feels will meet your needs. In some cases, your doctor may own or have a financial interest in one or more providers. Should this be the case with the provider you choose, if we are aware of such a business relationship, we will disclose this information to you. Regardless of the provider you choose, we will coordinate with them to ensure your needs have been anticipated and met by the time you are discharged from the hospital.

Medications

While you are at the hospital, your medications will be given on a set schedule, which may be slightly different than what you are used to at home. For your safety and to ensure all medications are properly given, medications are distributed within a certain timeframe, depending on what your doctor ordered. For example, if your medication is “due” at 9am, you will receive your medication as early as 8:30 am or as late as 9:30 am. This one hour timeframe is necessary for our nurses to distribute all their patients medications appropriately, while still meeting the other needs of each and every patient. Taking your medication anytime within the set timeframe meets all requirements of your medication. If you have special needs related to the timing of your medications, please discuss these needs with your nurse. Please bring all your home medications from home in the original prescription bottle. Due to limited inventory you might receive your own medications during your hospital stay. Please remember to bring both prescriptions and as well as over-the-counter medications and any herbal preparations you are taking at home.

Pain Management

Pain or discomfort is sometimes an inevitable part of the surgical and post-operative care. At the Spine Hospital, making sure you are as comfortable as possible is one of our primary goals.

Throughout your stay, you will be asked often to rate your level of discomfort on a scale of 1-10; with 0 representing no pain and 10 representing severe or intolerable pain.

We will use your responses to help us provide both medications and other measures designed to keep you comfortable. You can help us manage your pain by being an active participant. Here’s how you can help. Remember, medication and other treatments can almost always relieve pain. Please don’t suffer in silence or “gut it out”.

Let us know as soon as you are experiencing pain and let jus asses and treat it. Don’t be afraid of becoming addicted. That will not happen over the course of your short hospital stay. Don’t worry about being a “complainer”. You don’t want to hurt and we don’t want you to hurt either. You have aright to ask for pain relief and the sooner you speak up, the better. It is much easier to control pain in the early stages before it becomes severe.

Patient Safety

Above all else, we want you to be safe while you are in our hospital.
That is why the same questions are sometimes asked more than once about such things as allergies to medications, adverse reactions you may have had in the past, and even such things as “What part of your body is your doctor going to operate on today?” or other treatments. Your nurse will also check your armband identification before giving you medications or other treatments. All of these things, and many others, are designed with one purpose in mind and that is to make sure you are protected and safe from medical error. Please accept these sometimes annoying routines and cooperate with us to make your stay safe, comfortable and uneventful.

Another way to stay safe is to prevent falling. Remember that after your procedure, you may be given medications to relieve your pain and help you sleep. These can make you more prone to falling when getting out of bed or using the bathroom.

Please use the call system to notify the nurse when you need to get up until together we have determined that it is safe to do so on your own.

Leaving Your Room

In order to get some exercise and a change of scenery, you may choose to take a walk. As long as your condition allows it, we encourage this activity but before you venture out, please check in with your nurse so we know where to find you. We want to make sure you will not miss any scheduled treatments, tests or medications. There may be times when you will need a hospital staff member or volunteer to accompany you for your own safety, so please check with us before you take that walk!

Patient Education

We believe patients and families should participate in all area’s of the patient’s healthcare. Your doctor, nurse and other members of the hospital staff will provide information related to your healthcare various times throughout your stay.

You will be provided with both verbal and printed instructions at time of discharge from the hospital. In addition to this information, if you have any questions, please ask your doctor or nurse.

Standard Precautions

The Center for Disease Control has recommended that hospitals institute “Standard Precautions” for the protection of patients and staff against transmission of communicable diseases. These precautions involve the use of protective equipment by the staff when handling blood and fluids during the care of all patients. You may notice your staff wearing some protective apparel, depending on the type of care being given to you. We want you to know that is part of the routine and to assure you that these protective measures are being followed for your protection. Do not be alarmed.

Food Services

The hospital’s food services are provided a-la-carte by our outstanding chef. We think you will find both the quality and selection of food served is excellent. Meals will be served in your room. You will be given a menu from the food service staff each day to make meal decisions.

Clinical dietary services are provided by a registered clinical dietician who will ensure any special diets or foods ordered by your doctor meet your needs.

Meals may also be ordered for family and visitors at a nominal charge. Please let your nurse or food service personnel know if you plan to have a visitor at meal time.

We welcome your family to bring food and snacks from home, but please keep in mind that you may have special diet restrictions. Please ask your nurse for authorization before consuming foods other than those served at the hospital. If you have special dietary needs, please make sure we are aware of them as we plan for your admissions.

Telephone and Television

Each patient room is equipped with a direct dial telephone and individual televisions. Instructions for making and receiving calls are available at your bedside. The hospital provides a liberal selection of channels on its cable television system for your entertainment. Telephone amplifiers and T.D.D. (telephone device for deaf) are available to be hearing impaired patients free of charge.

For information or to make arrangements for these devices ask your nurse.

Mail

Mail is delivered and picked up once a day. Personal mail addressed to you at the hospital will be delivered to your room.

Your nurse or any member of the hospital staff will be happy to post any outgoing mail for you.

Electrical Appliances

The hospital presents special safety challenges with regard to electrical equipment. Battery-operated radios, laptop computers, tape players, shavers, and other appliances maybe be safely used. For your safety and others, personal plug-in electrical appliances may not be used in the hospital unless they have been checked by the hospital personnel before they are used. If you have a special device that absolutely you must use, please discuss it with your nurse and we will have it inspected by the hospital’s safety officer to ensure it is safe for use in the hospital environment.

We now offer wireless Internet Access in the hospital. Please ask the hospital staff for further details.

Interpreter

We believe that all patients and their families deserve clear and thorough communication about their health care. Interpreter services for non-English speaking and hearing impaired are available. To help ensure a smooth hospital stay, please let your doctor, nurse or admitting staff know in advance about your language or hearing needs. If you need an interpreter while in the hospital, please contact your nurse.

Lost and Found

The hospital lost and found is managed by our Risk Manager. For information, or to make a claim, please call the hospital switchboard (404-0800) and asked to be connected to the Risk Manager.

Please avoid bringing jewelry and other valuables with you to the hospital.

Parking

Ample parking is available in the hospital’s parking lots for both patients and visitors. The hospital cannot be responsible for theft or damage to items left in your vehicle. Please refrain from leaving valuables in your car.

Smoking

In order to promote good health, control the practice of smoking where it presents a health or fire hazard to patients, employees or the general public and to comply with Texas State Law, smoking is not permitted in any area of hospital. If you feel you need assistance with abstaining from tobacco use during your hospital stay, please discuss it with your doctor or nurse. Your doctor may prescribe a smokeless nicotine substitute such as a patch or gum. Once you are able to move about the hospital on your own, your doctor may authorize privileges that will allow you to go to one of the hospital’s designated smoking areas. If you leave your room to go smoke, please let the nurse know that you are going so you can be found in the event that it is necessary. The hospital’s nursing staff will provide you with information on smoking cessation programs available in the community if you request it.

Concerns, Complaints, and Grievances

While we don’t anticipate anything but a very positive experience for you, we do have processes in place to address concerns that you may have.

Please ask your nurse should you wish to exercise a complaint or grievance.

We will do our best to make your stay as pleasant and comfortable as possible. We do not anticipate any problems and will do our utmost to make sure you are pleased with the care and services you receive. Your well-being is important to us, so if you have a problem or concern during your stay, let us help. The administrative staff can answer questions about Hospital policies, facilitate communication among departments and solve problems on the spot. If we are doing something wrong, we want to let our staff know so we can correct the problem.

We would also love to know if you think we did a good job. We want to know what you think. So please complete and return the patient survey that is sent to you following your procedure.

We offer a variety of alternatives for the resolution of any medical/legal or ethical concerns, should such questions arise. If you need assistance with any Hospital matter, please ask your nurse to contact the hospital’s Patient Relations/ Risk Management officer or Administrator on call.

Our goal is to deliver the highest quality patient care in an environment most relaxing for the patient. No one is better qualified to measure our success than a former patient. We ask you to please complete your confidential patient evaluation form and return it as soon as possible. This allows us to evaluate your overall satisfaction with the care you received at our hospital. Consider your options and discover the friendly, professional care available at the South Texas Spine and Surgical Hospital – a special place for patients and their families.

The South Texas Spine and Surgical Hospital is a fully accredited organization with Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). For information regarding the Spine Hospital or to file a complaint and request a public information interview please contact JCAHO at: (800) 994-6610, email at: complaint@jcaho.org.

Additional Notice Regarding Complaints

Texas Law gives you the right to file a complaint related to care and services of the hospital with the Texas Department of Health. This address is:

Texas Department of Health
Health Facility and Licensure Certification Division
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, Texas 78756
Phone number: (888) 973-0022

Complaints About Physicians and Other Licensees and Registrants of the Texas Board of Medical Examiners

Complaints about physicians, as well as other registrants of the Texas Board of Medical Examiners, may be reported for the investigation at the following address:

Texas Board of Medical Examiners
Attn: Investigations
P.O. Box 2018
Austin, Texas 78768-2018
Phone number: 1-800-201-9353

Financial Interest Disclosure

The South Texas Spine and Surgical Hospital, Nation Surgical Hospital, INC., in association with local physicians, has partnered together to establish this facility. It is the mission of this hospital and it’s physician partners to provide the highest quality of treatment in a safe and caring environment. This commitment is passed on to you through your specialized and skilled staff, all of who are dedicated to your care.

Non-Discretionary Policy

As a recipient of Federal financial assistance, The South Texas Spine and Surgical Hospital does not exclude, deny benefits to, or otherwise discriminate against any person on the ground of race, color, or national origin, or on the basis of disability or age in admission to, participation in, or receipt of the services and benefits of any of it’s programs and activates or in employment therein, whether carried out by The South Texas Spine and Surgical Hospital directly or through a contractor or any other entity with whom The South Texas Spine and Surgical Hospital arranges to carry out its programs and activities.

This statement is in accordance with the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and Regulations of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued pursuant to the Acts, Title 45 Code of Federal Regulations part 80, 84 and 91.(Other Federal Laws and Regulations provide similar protection against discrimination on grounds of sex and creed.

In case of questions concerning this policy, or in the event of a desire to file a complaint alleging violations of the above, please contact the hospital Compliance Officer at 210-404-0800.

Patients having needs for special accommodations because of sensory (hearing, visual or speech) impairments or with limited English language proficiency will be accommodated as necessary with assistive devices and/or interpreters or communication assistants at no charge to the patient.

In case of questions concerning these accommodations please contact the hospital Business Office Manager at 210-404-0800. You may also contact your nurse or any employee of the hospital for assistance at any time.

Access Notice for Persons with Special Needs

The South Texas Spine and Surgical Hospital and all its programs and activities are accessible to and usable by disabled persons, including person with impaired vision and hearing. Access features include:

  • Convenient off-street parking designated specifically for disabled persons. This parking is available adjacent to all public access doors.
  • Curb cuts and ramps between parking areas and buildings.
  • Level access offices, meeting rooms, bathrooms, public waiting areas, patient treatment areas including patient rooms and examination rooms, and other public facilities.
  • A full range of assistive and communication aids provided to persons with impaired hearing, speech or manual skills, without additional charge for such aids. Some of these aids include:
    • Qualified sign language interpreters for the deaf.
    • A twenty-four hour telecommunication device for the deaf (TTY/TTD)
    • Accessible TTY/TTD devices for patients and other customers.
    • Readers and/or taped materials for the blind and large print materials for the visually impaired.
    • Flash cards, alphabet boards and other communication tools.
    • Assistive devices for persons with impaired manual skills.

If you require any of these devices, or other devices or assistance, please let the receptionist or your nurse know.