-A A +A

Surgery Checklist for Patients

By Dr Jocelyn Lowinger

Being well-prepared leading up to surgery can help ease your nerves, improve your wellbeing during your stay, and ensure that hospital staff have the information they need to help you. The following checklist should help your with your pre-surgery preparation to help keep you organized and relaxed in this period.

What to pack

Most hospitals will provide a list of personal items that you will need to pack. Accessories such as nightwear, underwear, day clothes, and toiletries are essential, and you may also wish to bring a book, magazine, or personal music player. Also, do not forget to bring reading glasses or other items that you need for everyday use such as a walking stick or shaver.


How much you need to pack depends on the procedure you are having and the length of time you may need to stay, so contact the hospital if you are not sure.

  • Medications

Bring all your current medications including tablets, capsules, puffers, patches, injections, or liquid medications. In addition to any prescription medications, also include any over-the-counter medicines, herbal remedies, or vitamins that you have been taking.


Ask your pharmacist or GP to update your medication list and provide you with a printout to give to the hospital staff. This will help them make sure that you are prescribed the right medications and to avoid errors in what you are prescribed.Discuss with your doctor if any medications need to be stopped before the procedure.


  • Pre-admission paperwork

Generally, you will receive a pre-admission pack before your procedure which you will need to fill in and bring with you on the day you go to hospital. If you have not received this pack or any other forms, contact the hospital before your admission date.


  • What not to bring

While it is important that you are comfortable, there are a few items that should not be brought to hospital. Jewelry, cash, and valuables are best kept safe at home to ensure their safekeeping. Makeup is also not needed and should not be applied the morning of surgery.


  • What to do the night before

Your surgeon or other hospital staff will let you know about any special requirements before surgery, such as when you should stop eating and drinking and when to shower. In general, it is best to shower in the evening before or the morning of surgery. Do not shave body hair before surgery. If any shaving is required, this will be done in theatre.


Do not drink alcohol at least 24 hours before surgery and avoid smoking at least four weeks prior to surgery to minimise the chance of complications during or after your procedure.


  • Getting to hospital

On the day of your surgery make sure a family member, friend, or carer can take you to the hospital. Having a support person can help ease your nerves and will usually make the process much easier to go through.


Jocelyn is a doctor and professional health and medical writer with 20 years’ experience in the health industry. She has extensive experience in a range of approaches to improving the delivery of healthcare such as clinical governance, quality use of medicines, and developing high-quality health communications for consumers and health professionals.