Getting a date for your operation

Hospitals see patients in the order of how urgent their condition is. This means we will see patients with the most serious or life-threatening illness or injury before patients with less serious problems.

We try to see patients for their scheduled appointment or operation, but sometimes emergencies mean we have to reschedule.

We'll let you know as soon as possible if we need to reschedule your appointment or operation. We'll fit you in at the earliest available time.

Before your operation

Before your operation, you may need to see a specialist involved in your surgery. The clinics are free if you have a Medicare Card. You'll need to bring your card to each appointment.

You'll probably see the following specialists:

  • an anaesthetist will ask you about your health, any past anaesthetics, and will make sure you're well enough to have an anaesthetic
  • a resident medical officer is part of the surgical team who will give you a medical check
  • a registered nurse will check your temperature, blood pressure, height and weight
  • a pharmacist will look at any medication you are taking and ask if you've had allergic reactions to any medicines in the past.

You can ask these specialists any questions about your operation and recovery. They'll be happy to talk to you about any part of your treatment.

If you need to travel to your appointment, you may be able to get financial help. Find out about the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme on the Queensland Government website.

Preparing for your operation

You can't eat or drink before your operation. Before you come to hospital, we’ll tell you how long you’ll need to go without food. It's usually at least 6 hours before you have your operation. You can check this with your doctor.

You may need to get more tests done. This could be another physical check. Your anaesthetist may also order extra tests.

Your anaesthetist will talk about the anaesthesia with you. They might give you some medicine just before your operation to help you feel sleepy and relaxed.

You may be asked remove any false teeth and jewellery.

What to bring

  • A small bag to put your clothes in during your procedure
  • Something warm to wear while you're waiting for admission
  • A list of your medicines or the medicines, x-rays/scans
  • Consent forms completed by you and your doctor
  • Medicare card, pension or concession card, if you have one
  • Private health fund card if you have one
  • Credit card
  • Physical aids like glasses, hearing aids (with cases), walking stick, mobility aids
  • Something to read

On the day of your operation

You usually need to arrive several hours before your operation. You'll be told what time to arrive the day before your operation.

After settling into the day operation section of the hospital, a nurse will check you. Your anaesthetist may also visit you.

They may examine you, review your health history questionnaire and ask you more questions, such as:

  • how have you reacted to other anaesthetic and operations that you've had?
  • has anyone in your family had problems with anaesthetics?
  • what medicines or tablets are you taking?
  • are you allergic to anything or had a bad reaction to anything?
  • what are your past and present medical problems?
  • what are your smoking and drinking habits?
  • have you had dental work?
  • do you have digestive problems or reflux?

Anaesthesia for day surgery

Right before your operation, we’ll take you to the operating room to have the anaesthetic. The type of anaesthetic depends on the type of surgery and your health.

Types of anaesthesia

  • General anaesthesia –This is usually done with an injection into a vein in the back of your hand to make sure you don’t feel anything. You won’t be conscious for your procedure if you have a general anaesthesia.
  • Regional anaesthesia –This is more complex - ask your GP for more information.
  • Local anaesthesia – This is for small and simple procedures. Only the immediate area surrounding the injection is numbed.

Side effects and complications of anaesthesia

Some of the side effects and possible complications of anaesthesia include:

  • drowsiness
  • sore throat
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • short term memory loss
  • bleeding at the injection site
  • infection at the injection site
  • low blood pressure
  • headache
  • temporary nerve damage
  • kidney failure
  • liver failure
  • allergic reaction to the anaesthetic
  • seizure
  • muscle aches
  • dental injury.

You can discuss these with your GP or specialist.

Straight after the surgery

After your operation we’ll take you to a recovery room. You might not remember much of this because of the medicines you've had.

If you were given local anaesthetic for a small procedure, you'll be discharged shortly after your surgery. You may stay in the day surgery for one or two hours after leaving the recovery room.

You'll need to have a friend or family member drive you home.

Taking care of yourself at home

If you've been given sedatives, pain relievers or general anaesthesia, you may feel drowsy after your procedure.

This is because a small amount of the anaesthetic may remain in your body. This can slow your reaction time and affect your judgement for the next 24 hours.

During this time, you shouldn't:

  • drive a car
  • operate dangerous machinery
  • drink alcohol
  • sign any documents
  • care for young children without other adult help.

How much will it cost?

If you're eligible for Medicare, your operation is free. If you're not eligible for Medicare, you'll need to pay all hospital charges before you have your operation. How much it costs, depends on the type of surgery. Find out more about health costs, insurance and support.

Last updated: September 2023