3 Tactics to Educate Your Patient Before and After Surgery

The Internet has a wealth of information, but not all of it is accurate, especially when it comes to medical information. The goal for educating a patient before, during, and after a surgical procedure are multifaceted, but, ultimately, medical professionals want to to improve outcomes and lower readmissions. Research by Gallup has shown that educated patients experienced increased satisfaction and decreased complications after surgery. Patient educators provide accurate information that patients can easily understand in order to improve their condition and reduce the risk of complications. An efficient strategy for patient education includes both verbal and visual tactics. Consider these three patient education tactics and tools for your practice or hospital:

1. Provide Full Disclosure, and Be Specific

Many patients are confused by preoperative fasting. In many cases, it is not enough to tell a patient “do not to eat or drink after midnight prior to surgery.” Patients are not always compliant because they simply don’t understand the danger of violating this standard. Explaining the reasons for fasting and the dangers of pulmonary aspiration will help patients understand why fasting is so critical.

It’s also important to be specific. When discussing the fasting criteria, for example, do not settle for terms such as “clear liquids.” Instead, explain what that means. Clear liquids are not necessarily transparent fluid and that leads to patient confusion. The term “light meal” is ambiguous, as well. A layperson may see a bag of chips as a light meal. Medically, a light meal refers to foods with fast gastric emptying times. A patient will not know what that means, therefore, it is important to take the time to explain it in full.

2. Explain the Concept of Staying Ahead of Pain

After the procedure, patients may be hesitant to take pain medication, thinking it makes them weak or puts them at risk for addiction. As a result, they end up waiting until the pain is acute and the prescribed medicine is less effective. Explaining to your patient the benefit of staying ahead of the pain to reduce stress and improve healing will alleviate that hesitation and also provide them with the information they need to take their pain medication responsibly.

3. Use a Visual Tool Before and After the Procedure

Fear adds to a patient’s stress. Education improves understanding and reduces that fear. Medical animations and illustrations are a great tool for patients preparing for surgery. Patient education videos (like those provided by Nucleus Medical Media) are created for lay people to provide clarity and comfort for patients preparing for surgery.

Studies show that 72 percent of Internet users will look for health information online. Many find that animated videos like the ones created by Nucleus are less scary, yet very informative. Having a patient watch an animated video explaining a procedure and then following it up with a teaching session is a practical way to educate them.

Medical animations and illustrations are just as useful after a procedure, too. Visual discharge instructions offer valuable information in a format that populations vulnerable to low health literacy will understand. These animations discuss aftercare, potential complications to watch for, and describe what to expect during the recovery phase.


The right education strategy improves patient outcomes using a language designed for individuals with low health literacy. It starts with a Nucleus Medical Media visual presentation to enhance the patient teaching session. Find the right license for your organization today.

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