What To Expect

What to Expect as an OA Patient
The following information will help you be prepared for your OA service and that helps the medical professionals who care for you

Guidelines and Expectations
Before your procedure
Day of procedure
After your procedure
Healing Process
If you are having a colonoscopy

Guidelines and Expectations
As an Operation Access patient, we do ask that you follow a few simple steps and guidelines to ensure there are no delays or complications in scheduling your consultation or procedure:
  • Please call us at least 48 hours in advance if you need to cancel or postpone an appointment. It can be very difficult to reschedule appointments.
  • Please arrive on time for your appointments. Getting there a few minutes early would be even better. The doctors are volunteering without pay to provide you with care. Please respect their time. If you are pleased with the care, you can give the doctor a card or a small gift to show your appreciation.
  • We need to know about all appointments with your OA doctor to ensure you are not billed. Call us as soon as possible if you schedule a new appointment or if the doctor cancels an appointment.
  • Please keep us informed about every appointment. Give us a quick call after your appointments so we know how you are doing and we can coordinate the next steps.
  • Please call us if you no longer need care through Operation Access, or if you change your address or phone number. If we are unable to contact you, we may be forced to close your case.
  • If your condition becomes an emergency, please go to an emergency department. Remember: Emergency Department charges are not covered by Operation Access.
  • If you have appointments at your clinic to prepare for your procedure and to follow-up afterward, you are responsible for any fees charged by the clinic.
  • The care you receive from participating doctors, nurses, and hospitals is donated at no cost to you, so you should not receive a bill. If you do receive a bill, do not pay. Call Operation Access and send us a copy of the bill.
  • If you need routine care, please visit your primary care provider. OA does not provide long-term medical care; the care you receive is limited to the outpatient procedure and office consults related to that procedure.
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Waiting Period - Most patients will wait 1-4 months for the first appointment to be scheduled. You are welcome to contact Operation Access at any time during this period if you have any concerns or would like a status update on your referral.

Initial Consultation - As soon as we match you to a specialist, we will call with details on your initial consultation appointment and also send a letter including the appointment date/time, map and driving instructions. We will call you again a couple of days before your appointment to make sure you know where you need to go and when, and also to answer any last-minute questions you might have. At the appointment, the doctor will evaluate your condition and ask you questions about your medical history. We can also arrange for an interpreter to meet you at the appointment if needed.

Important Note: We strongly encourage you tell your physician(s) what medications you are taking at your FIRST visit. This is especially important if you are taking any anticoagulants. It is crucial your physician is aware of these medications.

Consultation Follow-Up - We will call you after your appointment to find out how it went and what treatment plan the doctor has recommended for you. If you need any tests or exams prior to your procedure, we will schedule those for you and we’ll also inform your clinic of the outcome of your appointment.

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Before Your Procedure

Procedure Preparation – Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what steps you need to take to prepare for your procedure. We will contact you before your scheduled procedure date to explain the preparation process and answer your questions. Our goal is to make sure you have all the information you need to feel comfortable and prepared on the day of your procedure.

Testing - You may need to have blood tests or a physical exam prior to your procedure. OA staff will help you schedule pre-operative tests and exams at your referring clinic or at the hospital where you will have your procedure. In most cases, OA staff can also help you schedule any necessary diagnostic radiology procedures directly related to your referral, such as an MRI, CT scan, or x-ray.

Complete consent forms - All Operation Access surgeries are elective (non-emergency) and ambulatory (same-day). You will be asked to sign a consent form at the hospital or in the doctor’s office giving your permission for the operation and stating you understand what surgery you are having and are aware of the possible risks, benefits, complications, side effects and alternatives.

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Your team of doctors and nurses will do everything possible to make you feel comfortable and keep you safe during your procedure. It's important to follow all instructions given to you before your procedure, including:
  • Be on time to check in. Being late can delay your procedure. Allow extra time for parking and traffic.
  • Follow directions about eating and drinking. In most cases, you will not be able to eat or drink – not even water – after midnight the night before your procedure.
  • Arrange for someone to take you home after your procedure. In most cases, you will not be allowed to leave the hospital unless you have someone with you who can drive you home after the procedure.
  • Take a photo ID and your Operation Access appointment letter with you to your procedure location.
  • Bring an up-to-date list of all prescription and non-prescription medications you are taking.
  • Do not wear contact lenses or jewelry. Leave your valuables, such as money and jewelry, at home.
  • Bring what you will need after surgery, such as your inhaler if you have asthma or a cane if you use one.
Anesthesia is used so that you will remain comfortable during your operation. This can range from you being completely asleep to simply numbing the area being worked on. Your surgeon and anesthesia providers can tell you more about the type of anesthesia you will need during your surgery.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or Operation Access.

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After Your Procedure
Here is a brief summary of what to expect after your procedure is over.

Going Home
You will be released from the medical center on the same day as your procedure.

Either OA staff or the hospital staff will provide you with after-procedure instructions to help you recover as quickly and safely as possible. These instructions will generally include items like:
  • Which medications you need to take and when, including medications you take regularly.
  • Early signs or symptoms that may indicate a problem after your procedure.
  • The level of activity that is safe for you. For example, the instructions will likely list when it is okay to drive, how much you can walk each day, how much weight you can lift, and what other things you can do as you recover. For most procedures, you will be encouraged to be as active as comfortably possible to avoid complications.
  • The best way to bathe and protect your wound. For example, the instructions will explain how to cover the area, if needed, and when it is safe to shower and let the incision get wet.
  • How to care for incisions and change your surgical dressings.
  • Whether you will need to make any changes in your diet.
  • Many people will have some nausea the first 24 hours after surgery. Liquids and bland foods can help during this time.
  • Many people develop constipation after their procedure due to inactivity and pain medication. You can help prevent this by including plenty of fluid and fiber in your diet.
  • The use of special equipment, such as a sling or crutches.
  • When to have a follow-up appointment with your doctor.
Ask your doctor or nurse to explain anything you don't understand, or call Operation Access and we can get in touch with your doctor on your behalf.

Common Side Effects after surgery
Mild pain, swelling, and redness around an incision area are usually normal post-procedure symptoms and should go away within a few days.

Symptoms of an infection may include:
  • Significant pain, swelling, redness, or warmth around the incision site
  • Red streaks extending from the incision site
  • Pus or a consistent flow of blood draining from the incision site
  • Fever or chills with no other known cause
Contact Operation Access or your clinic immediately if you any of these infection symptoms. If you are having serious problems and are unable to reach someone at Operation Access or your clinic, if possible, go to the emergency room at the medical center where you had your procedure. If it is too far away, go to the closest emergency department. [OA cannot guarantee that charges for emergency department visits will be covered.]

Follow-up Care
Operation Access staff are happy to schedule any required, routine appointments with your doctor following your procedure. You can also authorize Operation Access to obtain your medical records from the hospital and/or doctor’s office on your behalf and send them to your referring clinic.

You should contact Operation Access or your referring clinic before your scheduled follow-up appointment if you:
  • have questions about your home care instructions
  • develop a symptom or problem that you do not know how to handle
  • Are not able to take your prescription medications
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. It is very important that you keep all scheduled visits, understand the results of all tests and labs ordered as part of your care, and keep an up-to-date list of medications you are taking.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your doctor or Operation Access.

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Healing Process
Good nutrition and a healthy level of activity are important for quick and proper healing after your surgery. Cutting back on alcohol and tobacco will help your recovery. These changes are best made several weeks before surgery since your body may react unpleasantly to sudden changes in your habits.

If you think you have a medical or psychiatric emergency, Call 911 Immediately or go to the nearest hospital. The information on this website is provided as an educational tool and should not be relied upon for personal diagnosis or treatment. This site may contain links to other websites outside of www.operationaccess.org. Operation Access has no control over the content or the availability of these sites, and is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of such Websites. Any medical content that you feel may be important to your health should always be discussed with your physician.

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If You are having a Colonoscopy

We strongly encourage you tell your physician(s) what medications you are taking at your FIRST visit. This is especially important if you are taking any anticoagulants. It is crucial your gastroenterology team be aware of these medications.

What is a Colonoscopy?
All Operation Access colonoscopies are elective (non-emergency) and ambulatory (same-day). A colonoscopy is a minimally invasive endoscopic examination of the large colon and the distal part of the small bowel with a fiber optic camera on a flexible tube. If polyps – tissue growths inside the colon – are found, they are excised and sent to pathology for analysis.

You will need to fast the entire day before your procedure. This means that you will only be allowed to drink clear liquids. Do not eat any solid foods or dairy products. Even if you are hungry, do not eat! A list of acceptable liquids you are allowed to drink will be provided to you by Operation Access or your doctor. If you do not follow these preparation instructions, your colonoscopy will not be effective.

Preparation Instructions
Follow your doctor’s preparation directions very carefully. There are different methods that can be used to empty the colon, and your doctor will tell you exactly what to do and what medications to take to prepare for your colonoscopy. Be patient with your bodily functions. Expect to have a tremendous amount of gas (flatulence) as well as diarrhea. This is normal and is part of the clearing out process. It is also normal to have abdominal cramping; however, if you start to vomit, contact your doctor.

You will be given a sedative through an IV so that you will remain comfortable during your colonoscopy. The entire procedure usually takes about 30 minutes. The doctor may take some biopsies, small samples of tissue, which will be sent to a pathologist for testing to ensure an accurate diagnosis.