Public Release: 

Simple instruction sheet helps patients correctly take regular medications before surgery

American Society of Anesthesiologists

CHICAGO - Patients may be more likely to take their regularly prescribed medications for chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension correctly before surgery when provided a simple instruction sheet, reveals a study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2016 annual meeting. Taking medication correctly before surgery can improve patient safety and comfort, and reduce day-of-surgery cancellations.

"We looked at ways to help patients who were being admitted to the hospital on the morning of surgery ensure they complied with their physician's medication instructions," said Andrew Grant, M.B., Ch.B., study lead author, Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, Scotland. "Our goal was to make sure patients were as healthy as possible before surgery, improve safety and limit surgical cancellations due to patients incorrectly omitting certain medications or simply taking them improperly."

As more patients having elective surgery are admitted to the hospital or ambulatory center on the day of surgery, it is important that they are appropriately prepared. Traditionally, these patients receive verbal instructions given at a pre-assessment clinic, where a patient's preoperative medications are assessed and optimized. Certain long-term medications should be continued on the day of surgery, while others should be temporarily stopped. When a patient makes a medication error before surgery, it can be potentially dangerous, causing harm and discomfort, and can lead to the procedure being cancelled.

In the study, 48 patients undergoing elective orthopaedic surgery who had been given verbal instructions, and 57 patients who were given a newly implemented simple, medication instruction sheet (which nurses filled in with patients) in a pre-assessment clinic were evaluated to determine the error rate in which they were taking their medications before surgery.

After adoption of the instruction sheet, the rate in which patients properly took or omitted their medications increased from 54 percent to 74 percent. The number of patients who incorrectly omitted taking their medications decreased from 42 percent to 25 percent and those who incorrectly took their medications decreased from 6 percent to 2 percent, with use of the instruction sheet.

"This is an inexpensive intervention that has been highly rated by staff," said Dr. Grant. "While the approach seems simple, re-enforcement of delivered information in written format can increase patients' compliance with advice given at pre-assessment and actively engages them in their own health care."



Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 52,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.

For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit Join the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2016 social conversation today. Like ASA on Facebook, follow ASALifeline on Twitter and use the hashtag #ANES2016.


LaSandra Cooper
Senior Public Relations Manager
American Society of Anesthesiologists
O: (847) 268-9106
C: (708) 650-2886

Amanda ReCupido
Public Communications Inc.
O: (312) 558-1770
C: (847) 445-2360

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