Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to visit the Center before surgery date?

All patients will need an up-to-date medical history and physical form. Some may need blood tests, EKG or x-rays. Your surgeon will advise where you will have this done.

Some families may elect to bring their children for a preoperative tour of Marin Specialty Surgery Center.

Some patients may choose to come to the Center before their surgery date to complete paperwork or make payments. We strongly recommend that you complete all preoperative documentation before the day of surgery.

Can I bathe before my surgery?

Yes, please bathe or shower prior to your surgery with antibacterial soap. You might not have to make an extra trip to the store, many bar soaps; such as Dial, Irish Sping and Lever 2000 have antibacterial properties. Remove all makeup and leave at least one nail free from polish. Do not use lotions, oils, perfume or hair spray after bathing.

What should I wear the day of surgery? 

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing such as sweat suits and easy to button shirts or blouses that are big enough to accommodate a large dressing after surgery.  Wear comfortable shoes; no high heels, please.
  • If you are having knee surgery, large sweat pants, break-a-way gym pants, or baggy shorts work nicely over bulky knee dressings.
  • If you are having shoulder surgery, you may have an immobilizer that prevents you from putting your arm through a sleeve.  Bring a large button down collar shirt or jacket.  Women can wear halter or tube tops with a big shirt that you can drape over your dressing and immobilizer.  Patients sometimes may want to sacrifice an old clean tee shirt.  It can be cut on the seam from the waist up through the arm pit on the operative side and draped over the immobilizer and dressing.
  • You don’t need to pack any extra clothes.  A nurse will provide you with a patient gown, slipper socks and a bag to store your clothing in (if you didn’t bring one) before you are escorted to your bed.

When should I arrive for surgery? 

  • Surgery Patients:  Please arrive 1 hour before your scheduled procedure unless instructed otherwise.
  • Spine Care Patients:  Please arrive 45 minutes before your scheduled procedure unless instructed otherwise.

What should I bring with me on the day of surgery? 

  • We’re going green, trying to be less wasteful and recycle more. You can help by bringing a soft tote bag for your belongings.  If you don’t have one or forget, we can give you a temporary one when you come.
  • If you wear contact lenses or glasses, bring a case for their safekeeping. We provide containers for removable dentures and bridgework.
  • Remove all your jewelry, head to toe, including all metal body piercings.
  • If you have a payment, you may use check or credit card.
  • You may have been asked to bring post operative equipment such as crutches or an ice machine. If you were not, or you forgot something, no worries, we have everything you need here. When you arrive the receptionist will ask you to sign a “DME”, Durable Medical Equipment Form. The DME company, NOT MSSC, will bill your insurance company for any items dispensed. You have the right to refuse equipment. MSSC does not sell equipment. The contact information for the third party dispensing company will be on the “DME” form, along with pricing. If you have any question or concerns, you can contact the DME company directly.
  • Leave all valuables, including jewelry and extra cash, at home. We cannot be responsible for damaged or lost property.
  • Bring all insurance cards and a government issued photo ID with you to the center.  Also, if your physician requested, bring any paper work, X-rays, etc.
  • If you routinely use insulin or inhalers, please bring them with you.
  • If you are unable to complete the pre-registration online forms (One Medical Passport), please arrive 15-20 minutes prior to your designated arrival time early to complete the paperwork
  • NOTE:  Many patients sign the Patient Acknowledgement Letter in their doctor’s office and they fax it to us. It is important that we receive this Letter before your date of service.

May I pre-register for my surgery?
Yes. We strongly encourage you to have completed all the registration forms before the day of surgery. We prefer that you simply walk in the day of your surgery and be shown to your room rather than fill out pages of paperwork. For your convenience, we have provided an online registration feature.

What if I cannot make my appointment?
Please notify the surgeon and the Marin Specialty Surgery Center at 415-461-4400 as early as possible if you cannot make your scheduled appointment. Early notification can help us better accommodate you and other patients.

What should I wear?
Please wear comfortable clothing. Button-down shirts or blouses are best. Wear comfortable shoes. Leave all jewelry at home, including body-piercing jewelry. If you wear contact lenses, you will probably have to remove them for the surgery, so consider bringing your glasses. If you have to wear your contacts, please bring contact solution and contacts case. Please do not wear any make-up as this can hide certain clinical signs. Please remove all body piercings.

Why must I refrain from eating and/or drinking prior to surgery?
You refrain from eating and/or drinking prior to surgery in order to prevent the risks of aspirating gastric contents during your surgery. This complication is very serious and you need to strictly abide by our recommendations. This has nothing to do with nausea and vomiting after your surgery as some think.

We have very clear policies as to specific times before surgery when you must refrain from eating and/or drinking. These are all based on safety standards. Please note that the standards have been revised recently. We believe that the fasting time should be as short as possible before your surgery. You will not improve your safety by not eating or drinking longer than necessary; in fact, at times you may complicate things a bit.

Children have different fasting schedules than adults – so please check in the Children and Special Needs Adults section.

Should I take my usual daily medication?
We generally request that you take your medication before leaving home. Diabetic medications will be individualized. We will usually hold diabetic medicines and manage your sugar at the Center. You should be contacted before your surgery leaving no doubts in your mind as to which medications you should take. Please bring all your medications with you.

People using inhalers must bring them to the Center on the day of surgery.

Some medications will be stopped for the surgery, particularly diabetes medication and blood thinners. You should bring these medications with you the day of surgery. Please call us with any questions you may have.

May I continue my herbal medications?
Herbal medications may have harmful effects on the surgery. Many of these remedies may effect your clotting mechanism and interfere with the anesthetic agents. (The list of drugs and their side effects are too great for this site.) We generally request that you stop these medications two weeks before surgery. Please remember to mention these remedies when being asked about medication.

Who may accompany me?
You are welcome to bring one person with you to the Center. That person will be allowed to be in your room with you before surgery and may sit with you after the surgery if you so choose.

When a patient is a child often two parents and/or guardians will accompany him or her to the Center. We will do our best to accommodate everyone, however, one parent and/or guardian will be permitted into the recovery room at a time.

Please refrain from bringing young children to the Center as guests.

Will I receive sedation before going into the operating room?
We will individualize each patient’s care.

Will I be contacted before my surgery?
Yes. We call each patient before the surgery to gather information and hopefully answer any of your questions. Preoperative instructions will be given by the nurse who calls you. You can also call the Center directly with any questions.

Should I bathe and wash my hair before leaving home?
Yes. You can comfortably take a shower, bathe, brush your teeth, etc. Please do not use make up, hair spray, nail polish or toiletries. These may interfere with the anesthesia monitoring and possibly hide clinical signs from the anesthesiologist.

What should I do if I am not feeling well?
If you are not feeling well, please contact your surgeon immediately. During normal business hours, you can call the Center for advice. There are some surgeries which are safer if delayed when you are sick. We need to know specific details to make the decision. Please do not delay in contacting your surgeon or the Center.

What should I do if I started my menstrual cycle?
This will not affect most surgical procedures. There are a few specific gynecological procedures which may be impacted by menstruation. Call us if you have any questions at 415-461-4400.

What should I do if I believe that I am pregnant?
It is very important for us to be aware of this possibility. Only essential surgery is done on pregnant patients. If there is any doubt please contact us immediately.

May I drive home?
Any patient receiving anesthesia should not drive until the next day. A patient receiving sedation for a procedure needs a ride home. The few patients who have procedures performed under local anesthesia alone could possibly drive home.

We would strongly recommend that all patients have a ride home and will be received by a responsible adult when they arrive home. Patients will not be allowed to drive, walk or take public transportation after sedation or anesthesia. Please make the appropriate arrangements.

May I speak to my anesthesiologist before the surgery?
All patients will be seen by the anesthesiologist on the day of surgery prior to entering the operating room. Sufficient time should be spent to answer any questions you may have. If you need to speak to the anesthesiologist before the day of surgery, you are welcome to call the Center and we will arrange for you speak with an anesthesiologist. We can also arrange a preoperative interview if you desire. You could also email your questions.

What if I have special needs?
We will make every effort to accommodate any special need you may have. We strongly encourage you to call the Surgery Center in advance so that we can properly prepare to make you comfortable. Do not hesitate to call and suggest anything that may make your day easier.

Should I bring my special needs equipment?
Yes. Please bring any walkers, post-op crutches, hearing aids, etc.

What must I bring with me on the day of surgery?

  • Bring case for eyeglasses or contacts
  • Bring insurance identification cards, driver’s license, completed billing forms, copayments
  • Bring all medication
  • Make sure you have a ride home and someone to care for you at home
  • Bring a favorite bottle or “sippy cup” for your child
  • Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing
  • Leave all jewelry and valuables at home

How will my pain be managed?
The management of your pain is of great importance to us. We will be assessing your level of pain from the time of admission until you receive our postoperative call at home. We need to inform and prepare you for each step of the process. This education will begin with our first contact. You will be repeatedly asked to rate your pain from a numerical scale called the Visual Analog Pain Scale, or for children, the Faces Pain Scale. Using the results of our communication we will alter the therapy as needed in order to assure your comfort.

The management of your pain will be taken very seriously. We will often use a combination of different modalities to help make you comfortable, choosing from oral medications, intravenous medications, nerve blocks, injection of local anesthetic during the surgery, etc. and prior to the surgery, the management of your pain should be discussed with both your anesthesiologist and surgeon. Please feel free to bring up any concerns or fears you may have. Remember that information on pain management gives you the appropriate expectations and hence a smoother, more comfortable recovery.

May I request what type of anesthesia I will receive?
Yes, in certain situations. Some operations can be performed using a choice of different anesthetic types. Your anesthesiologist will discuss available options with you after reviewing your medical history. Your preference will be discussed so that the most appropriate anesthetic plan is made.

Will I receive any sedatives before surgery?
You and your anesthesiologist will develop an anesthetic care plan.

What are the risks of anesthesia?
All operations and all anesthetics have risks and they are dependent upon many factors including the type of surgery and the medical condition of the patient. Most patients operated on in surgery centers are of the healthier group of patients, and in these circumstances serious complications, while they can occur, are fortunately very rare.

May I go into the operating room with my child?
There will be circumstances where it is appropriate for a parent to come into the operating room. Studies and experience show that this decision needs to be individualized and discussed between you and your anesthesiologist. There are many situations where other choices are better and possibly even safer.