The Surgery Waiting Room and Patient Anxiety

Dr. Kevin Campbell recently blogged about being on the other side of a surgery, in the dreaded waiting room. He noted four things:

  1. Unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time
  2. Anxiety makes waits seem longer
  3. Uncertain waits seem longer than known finite waits
  4. Solo waits seem longer than group waits

I’ll focus on #2 here. Much has been written about patient anxiety before surgery. Mathews et al (1981) suggested patients who undergo surgery experience acute psychological distress in the pre-operative period.

Anxiety is usually reduced by knowledge. So the more information you can arm a patient and their caregivers with before the big day, the more comfortable they should feel during the actual event. If they have benefited from proactive patient education, then they will know all the procedure steps going on behind those closed doors.

MJ Pritchard recently wrote in Reducing anxiety in elective surgical patients: "Effective communication is the cornerstone of good healthcare yet it can be a difficult skill to master. Poor communication can have serious consequences for patients and cause irreparable damage to the nurse-patient relationship… Communication tools should be straightforward, easy to use and flexible."

The Patient Guidance System allows patients to include their caregivers in on their treatment plans so they can be informed and help with the process. Communication between the doctor, patient and the patient’s trusted home caregivers is vitally important to good outcomes.

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