Hospital procedures are impacted by Covid-19. Find out more here.

Hospital procedures are impacted by Covid-19. Find out more here.

Before you come to hospital

This page will help you prepare for your hospital visit. Most patients will receive a Southern Cross hospital patient admission pack prior to their hospital visit - which includes the information provided here.


The safety, health and wellbeing of Southern Cross Healthcare patients and visitors are of utmost importance to us. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, our requirements for patients and visitors can change frequently. We recommend that you review our Covid-19 page in advance of visiting our hospitals.

Please complete the patient admission forms

Your hospital needs to receive all 3 completed forms at least one week prior to your admission. Please take mailing time into account.

Patient admission forms and leaflets

Checklist of things to confirm with your surgeon

  • The details of your procedure (so you are aware of what will happen and you can provide your informed consent).
  • Whether you need any further preparation, tests or blood clot treatment prior to admission.
  • Which of your regular medications (such as blood thinning medications), remedies or supplements you should stop taking.
  • When to arrive for your admission, and where to report.
  • The expected duration of your surgery and hospital stay.
  • If and when you need to stop eating and/or drinking.
  • If your procedure will temporarily affect your mobility. If so, you may need to make arrangements for when you return home (such as crutches, someone to drive you, meals and sleeping arrangements).

Paying your account

Depending on who is funding your treatment, you may be required to settle outstanding accounts or make co-payments prior to leaving the hospital. If your treatment is covered by insurance, you will need to forward all final costs to your insurer (this will be broken down into separate accounts from the hospital, your surgeon and your anaesthetist).

Payment information

Please arrange for someone to

  • Drive you home (to ensure the safety of others and yourself, NZ law prohibits driving following anaesthesia or after taking other medications known to impair a person's ability to drive).
  • Be with you for at least the first 24 hours following your surgery (if you are not staying in the hospital overnight).
  • Provide assistance for you at home during your recovery.

We encourage parents and carers to stay with their children in hospital. Please contact the hospital regarding availability of space and associated charges should you wish to stay overnight. You may like to visit the hospital before admission to familiarise your child with the surroundings.

Please bring to the hospital

  • Any documentation (including test results, X-rays, scans, letters, notes, or medication cards) relevant to your procedure.
  • Any medicines, remedies and supplements in their original containers (we don’t accept blister packs) and a printout from your GP or pharmacy that includes dosage and how often you take them.
  • Your ‘prior approval’ letter from your insurer or ACC, addressed to the correct hospital or facility.
  • Your admission pack (including the information sheets, the Blood Clots and YOU brochure, and all the other information leaflets).

If you are staying overnight

  • Comfortable sleepwear, dressing gown, shoes (slip-ons are not safe) and personal toiletries.
  • Any personal aids such as glasses, hearing aids and dentures.

If you are staying for the day

  • Reading material or other leisure activities.
  • Comfortable loose clothing (sleepwear is not required).

We recommend you bring a favourite toy and any special items that assist in comforting your child, and that you do not bring other children with you to the hospital. If this is not possible, you will need to arrange for another adult to be present to supervise the other children.

Please do not bring to the hospital

Southern Cross Healthcare and our hospital teams unable to take responsibility for

  • Your car - unless you have someone to drive your vehicle. It is highly unlikely you will be legally safe to drive following your procedure.
  • Items of value - except Medic Alert pendants and bracelets.

Checklist for immediately before admission

  • I have followed the instructions of my surgeon and anaesthetist regarding eating (including gum and sweets), drinking and taking medicines, remedies or supplements.
  • I will notify the hospital as soon as possible if something happens that might delay my arrival at the hospital.
  • I have showered and washed my hair, removed any nail polish, make-up or jewellery, and put on a clean set of clothes.
  • I have not shaved where I am having surgery. Shaving can irritate your skin and may increase the risk of infection. If shaving/clipping is required this is best done with the guidance from or by the nurse once you are in hospital.
  • I am well (no colds, cough, diarrhoea, vomiting). I do not have any cuts, scrapes or wounds and I have no current infections. I have not undertaken any recent long distance flights. If you have any symptoms or are unsure, please consult your surgeon prior to coming in to the hospital.

Who’s who?

We are mindful that your procedure requires you and your family/whānau to interact with many health practitioners, and that the terms used in documents can make it easy to lose track of who is who. Here is an explanation of who we mean by the terms used on this website.

Surgeon. The doctor performing your procedure. Surgeons are often also referred to as 'specialists', 'physicians' or 'consultants'.

Anaesthetist. The doctor who works with the surgeon and provides anaesthesia.

Nurse(s). The Southern Cross nurses who will be involved with your care.

GP. Your current family doctor (GP stands for General Practitioner).

Patient admission forms and leaflets

You should receive a Southern Cross patient admission pack from your specialist prior to your hospital procedure. If not, please contact your specialist's practice.

There are three forms you must complete:

1. Patient Admission Form*

2. Patient Health Questionnaire*

3. Agreement to Treatment Form

If you are not a New Zealand resident, you will need to complete a fourth form:

4. Acknowledgement Form: Non NZ Resident

*If you are completing the forms online the Patient Admission Form and Patient Health Questionnaire are combined.

These forms help our healthcare teams plan for your care. They include important questions about your personal details, health history, any special needs and payment. Please complete all sections.

Before your admission

We need to receive your Patient Admission Form and Patient Health Questionnaire at least one week before your admission date, although receipt as early as possible is appreciated. These forms can be submitted online or completed in paper form.

Complete patient forms online

You can complete your Patient Admission and Patient Health Questionnaire forms online. This will send your details direct to your hospital, and you will also be able to request a copy.

We recommend using a desktop computer or tablet for the best experience. To ensure privacy and safe delivery, please be sure to enter your email address correctly. Select your hospital from the drop-down menu below to get started.

If you are not a New Zealand resident you will need to complete an Acknowledgement Form: Non NZ Resident (PDF)

Complete patient forms by hand

Copies of patient admission forms can be found in your Southern Cross patient admission pack or downloaded below.

Patient Admission Form (PDF)
Patient Health Questionnaire (PDF)

Once completed, scan or photograph the forms, and email or post to your hospital. If posting forms, please allow 1-2 extra weeks for delivery.

Contact and postal address information can be found in your printed patient admission pack or your hospital webpage.

If you are not a New Zealand resident you will need to complete an Acknowledgement Form: Non NZ Resident (PDF)

After we review your forms

We may contact you after we review your forms to:

  • Gather more information about your health
  • Request additional documents (such as power of attorney documents for personal care and welfare or Welfare Guardian documentation)
  • Arrange a pre-admission consultation

On the day of your admission

Please bring all forms and paperwork relating to your treatment with you on the day of admission. This includes the paper copy of the Agreement to Treatment Form (which is part of your patient admission pack), which your specialist may have already discussed and signed.

You will be required to give informed consent to your procedure in consultation with your specialist and anaesthetist. If not completed already, this involves signing the Agreement to Treatment Form confirming you have discussed the surgery with your specialist and anaesthetist, that you understand any possible risks, and you agree to go ahead with the surgery as outlined on the form. You should sign this form together with your specialist and anaesthetist.

While you are in hospital

On admission to hospital

On admission to the hospital please report to the hospital main reception to begin admission and confirm payment arrangements. You will then be escorted to an area such as the ward, day-stay or an admission room, where a nurse will complete your admission and assist you to prepare for your procedure. You may discuss any questions, concerns and personal needs during this time and if you require any additional cultural, spiritual or emotional support, please advise your nurse. In consultation with your surgeon and anaesthetist, our nurses will plan your care with you.

Medical care while you are in hospital

Your medical care while you are in the hospital is the responsibility of your surgeon, while your nursing care will be provided by our team of nurses. Southern Cross does not employ doctors at its hospitals, but we expect your surgeon to visit regularly during your stay. Should the need arise, we also expect your surgeon to be available by telephone and to attend the hospital to provide further prompt specialist assessment or additional medical treatment. In the case of a medical emergency, we will call your surgeon and you may be transferred to an emergency, coronary or intensive care service.

Section 29 Medications

During your treatment, some commonly used medications may not have been submitted for Medsafe NZ’s approval; these are called Section 29 Medications. Where your health practitioner prescribes a Section 29 Medication for your care, we are required to provide Medsafe with your name and your prescriber’s name.

Patient Facilities

Ward or day-stay areas at our hospitals are designed to comfortably meet your needs.

Facilities for patients who stay overnight may include an ensuite bathroom, telephone, WiFi, television and radio in an individual or shared room. Please note, charges may apply to telephone calls.

Our meals have been designed to be appetising, nourishing and meet your specified dietary requirements.

Patient comfort: Visitors are typically welcome during the day and early evening. Rest periods may apply for patients who have had major surgery. We aim to ensure a restful and private environment for everyone. Some facilities have garden areas available to patients and visitors.

Going home

Your surgeon and nurses will discuss with you arrangements for your discharge from hospital. If you have any concerns regarding your discharge or you require assistance, please raise it with them.

If you have stayed overnight or longer, discharge time is by 10am. Charges may apply if you decide to extend your stay after your surgeon has discharged you.

Checklist for preparing to go home

  • I have arranged for someone to drive me home
  • I have arranged for someone to stay with me at home for at least the first 24 hours
  • I have received my Hospital discharge summary, including instructions from my surgeon and the contact details of both my surgeon and GP
  • I understand my recovery plan and the steps I need to take to reduce my risk of blood clots
  • I know how to arrange any follow up rehabilitation support (e.g. physiotherapy)
  • I have received any prescriptions required for my recovery, and any medications, remedies or supplements I brought with me
  • I have made follow-up arrangements with my surgeon, as necessary
  • I have collected my X-rays and/or scans(CT, ultrasound, MRI)
  • I have arranged for any necessary rehabilitation aids (e.g. crutches).

Please note: At the time of your discharge, your nurse will provide you with additional discharge information and will help you to complete your post-operative recovery plan in the Blood clots and YOU brochure.

Paying your account

Depending on who is funding your treatment, you may be required to settle outstanding accounts or make co-payments prior to leaving the hospital. If your treatment is covered by insurance, you will need to forward all final costs to your insurer (this will be broken down into separate accounts from the hospital, your surgeon and your anaesthetist).

Payment information

After you leave the hospital

Call or visit your surgeon, GP or accident/emergency service immediately if you become unwell after you leave the hospital and/or develop any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Sudden shortness of breath and/or pain in your chest
  • Coughing up blood-streaked mucus
  • Raised temperature (fever) or chills
  • Excessive bleeding or wound ooze
  • Increased pain, redness or swelling in or around the wound
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in your pelvis
  • Redness, pain, swelling or tenderness in your leg
  • Any other signs, symptoms or issues that are of concern to you or your family/whānau.

If in doubt, or in the event of an emergency, call an ambulance immediately (111).

Preventing infections

Staying safe before and after surgery

Ways to reduce your risk of infection:

There are things you can do before, during and after your hospital visit to help reduce your risk of getting an infection:

  • Wash your hands - one of the best ways to stop the spread of infectious germs is to wash or decontaminate your hands. This is referred to as hand hygiene (or hand washing). Please take the time to read the Preventing infection after surgery brochure or watch above video.
  • Keep warm – wearing warm clothes to the hospital, keeping warm in cold weather (including heating the car before you get in), and keeping warm before surgery can help to lower your chance of getting an infection.
  • Stop smoking – smoking can have an impact on the body’s healing process. It can also cause damage to your airways, making an infection more likely. Stopping smoking before you are admitted to the hospital can be helpful in reducing your risk.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – people who are overweight are at greater risk of infection. We recommend you talk to your doctor about how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Make sure your healthcare team is aware of any medical conditions – this includes existing conditions, any medications you are taking that might lower your immunity (some examples include immune suppressants, chemotherapy or steroids), or if you already have drug-resistant bacteria.
  • Let your doctor know if you have recently been unwell before you come to hospital – being unwell before you are admitted to the hospital can lead to further illness. Let your doctor know before you come to the hospital if you are not well or have been recently unwell.
  • Ask your family/whànau and friends to stay away if they are unwell.
  • Do not shave the surgical site. If hair needs removing, this will be done in the hospital.
  • Let us know if you have been in a hospital overseas in the last 12 months.

Blood clots

The risk of blood clots

A blood clot that forms in a deep vein in the muscles of the leg is known as a deep vein thrombosis or DVT. The clot can partially or totally block blood flow. Most blood clots form in a vein in the calf. They are less common in the thigh, and rare in other parts of the body. 

Venous thromboembolism, or VTE, describes the whole process by which clots form and travel through the blood stream. ‘Venous’ means to do with the veins. This is different from arterial thrombosis which can cause a stroke or heart attack. When a blood clot forms in a leg vein, it is called a Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT. It usually remains stuck to the vein wall.

Sometimes, however, one of two things may happen:

1. Part of the blood clot may break off and travel in the blood to the lungs. Here it may block an artery and cut off blood supply. This dangerous condition is known as a pulmonary embolus, or PE. A large clot in the lung is very serious and can be life-threatening.

2. If the blood clot in the leg is not treated, it may lead to long-term symptoms such as pain or discomfort, swelling, rashes or – in severe cases – a skin ulcer. This is called post-thrombotic syndrome. It happens because the vein is blocked, and can therefore damage the leg tissues.


To help you assess your personal risk of suffering from VTE, your admitting surgeon or physician will provide you with a “Blood clots and YOU” brochure, along with your patient admission pack. The brochure contains a self-assessment checklist and a post-operative recovery plan which you can use to self-assess your risk of VTE. You can then design a personal plan to follow after your surgery. This will help reduce your risk of suffering from post-operative VTE.

Risk self-assessment tool

Please note: This website is for information purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult the doctors caring for you for such advice.

Reducing your risk

There are a number of ways to reduce your risk and your health practitioner/s will work with you to plan the best options for you. We recommend you talk to your surgeon or physician about your personalised blood clot prevention plan.

Drink the recommended amount of water

Adequate water intake helps blood stay fluid for good blood flow. Reduced water intake could thicken the blood. The UK’s National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends proper hydration as a key recovery step for mitigating the blood clot risk of patients who have undergone any hospital procedure. Ensuring that your body is properly hydrated whilst recovering from a surgical procedure greatly reduces your chances of developing a blood clot.

As a general guide, if you drink less than 4 glasses of water a day, if you are going to the toilet less than four times a day or if the colour of your urine is dark yellow, you may be dehydrated. However, you should note that drinking too much water can flush essential electrolytes from your body. If you are unsure about how much water to drink, please consult your doctor.

Keep active

Frequent light activity (e.g. getting up, walking around and leg exercises) helps to move blood around the legs, reducing the risk of blood sitting and clotting in the veins. 

Although it is important to rest while recovering from surgery, mobility helps your blood to circulate, reducing its chances of pooling in your legs or lower body. Sluggish blood is more likely to be associated with a deep vein thrombus. Medical experts and the National Stroke Foundation of Australia recommend early post-operative mobilisation of surgical patients to reduce their risk of suffering from VTE. 

Undertake reasonable amounts of activity as advised by your doctor or nurse. Useful activities include leg exercises which you get taught in hospital and general walking. Your doctor and nurse will give you details of distances and frequency of exercise, as well as how to increase your exercise regime. This will be individualised according to your level of general fitness and health, the procedure you have had and your recovery response.

Wear compression socks

Compression stockings squeeze the legs, reducing the diameter of the veins and improving blood flow. Immobile blood is much more likely to clot, and current medical research has directly linked the use of graduated compression stockings with a decrease in the risk of DVT among surgical patients. 

Wear your graduated compression stockings; these will help improve blood circulation in your legs, ensuring that it doesn’t stagnate in your lower body. Please consult your doctor or nurse for specific instructions regarding how to wear and look after your graduated compression stockings. It is important to note that graduated compression stockings:

  • Need to be applied correctly in order to be effective. Otherwise, they can reduce blood flow to your legs and cause injury
  • Need to be worn at all times; including while in bed. It is recommended that patients obtain two pairs of stockings so there is ample time for laundering and careful drying whilst continuing to wear a pair for VTE protection.
  • Require specific laundering and drying. Please follow the supplier’s or manufacturer’s instructions for the care of your compression hosiery.

Click here to access the T.E.D TM Anti-Embolism Stockings Patient Guide (2013) from Covidien. This resource provides detailed information regarding the proper use and care of your compression hosiery.


Anti-clotting medicines work by reducing the blood’s tendency to clot. This may also increase the risk of bleeding.The aim is to get the dose just right so the blood will not clot too easily, and bleeding is less likely. Some people cannot take anti-clotting medicines if they already have a condition that makes them bleed more easily than normal. Some anti-clotting medicines can be injected just under the skin. Others are taken as a tablet. You may be given an anti-clotting medicine for a few days or up to a few weeks, depending on your particular operation or medical condition. Check with your medical team about how long you’ll need to take your medicine for.

People who take anti-clotting medication should pay attention to possible interactions with other medication. Some medications can increase or decrease the effect of anti-clotting medication. [6]

Please make sure that you understand your blood thinning medication plan before and after you leave hospital and take your medication/s strictly as directed. If you do have any concerns, contact your treating health practitioner. 

Other mechanical devices that may be used while you are in the hospital

Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) involves a garment around the leg that is regularly inflated and deflated, to squeeze the leg. It may be over the whole leg or just the calf. 

Venous foot pumps have a pad under the foot that is rapidly inflated and deflated every few seconds. This stimulates blood flow in the sole of the foot. The pad is held in place by a slipper.

Signs you should watch for

Before your procedure

Please refer to your Southern Cross "Blood clots and YOU" brochure (see Additional Resources below). If you consider your self-assessed risk of VTE to be higher than you expected, please inform your doctor immediately.

After your procedure

You should talk to the doctors caring for you about your particular risk.  Make sure you have completed the ‘My Recovery Plan’ section in your "Blood clots and YOU" brochure, so that you know exactly what to do for yourself - and are aware of the following possible symptoms:

Payment information

Cost estimates

You may wish to request an indication of the costs of your procedure. First, please ask your credentialled practitioner about the expected cost (practitioner and anaesthetist fees) and also the expected time in theatre (where applicable) and the length of your stay in hospital (e.g. day stay or overnight).

We can then provide you with an indication of the hospital charges that may apply to your visit, based on our experience. We are only able to provide you with an indication of your surgery costs at this time. The actual cost will not be known until after your surgery has been completed and your account is made up at the time of your discharge.


Make a credit card payment

Your hospital payments arrangements

If your treatment is covered by insurance: You must bring your prior approval confirmation letter (if supplied) with you to the hospital. Please ensure you understand what amount your insurer will be covering, as some insurance policies require a co-payment or excess payment before you come to hospital. Please note that the hospital does not usually submit insurance claims directly to insurers (this includes Southern Cross health insurance).

If your treatment is through the Southern Cross affiliated provider scheme: You should receive information about any potential co-payments required before you come into the hospital. If you are unsure about what you might have to pay, please contact Southern Cross health insurance directly.

If your treatment is covered by the public health system (ACC or Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand): The hospital will seek approval for your procedure on your behalf. If your procedure is only partially funded by ACC, you may be required to pay a deposit on admission. You may be required to pay for some charges, such as visitor meals not otherwise covered.

If you are paying for all or some of your treatment directly: You may be asked to pay a deposit 3-5 days before admission. The amount will be based on the estimated cost of the procedure. The balance of your hospital account can be settled either upon discharge, or we may contact you a few days after you have been discharged, once your invoice has been finalised. If your surgery is cancelled for any reason, your deposit will be refunded to you in full.

Methods of payment: We accept payment by EFTPOS, VISA, Mastercard or internet banking. We no longer accept payment by cheque and we prefer not to accept payment by cash.

Please note: If you are not a New Zealand resident you are required to complete an ‘Acknowledgement Form: Non NZ Resident'

Advanced payments, invoice payments, co-payments or excess payments can be made using a credit card (VISA or Mastercard) on this website.

Direct Money Transfer

In the payee particulars, code and reference fields, it is important for account holders to include the patient name, hospital location and patient NHI number (if known) - as this will help us to identify your payment quickly and easily

All Southern Cross hospitals

12 3113 0126623-00

Please note: Ensure that you check at Reception before you leave the hospital. You will be able to settle your account where this is required and the administration team can complete your discharge.

Contact your hospital if you have any questions relating to payment arrangements, or if you would like a price indication for your procedure from your chosen Southern Cross hospital. Each medical practitioner (including your surgeon, your anaesthetist, your GP, and others such as physiotherapists) is independent of Southern Cross Healthcare and will have a separate account for you or your insurer. You may wish to seek price indications from each practitioner.

Safe care, privacy and your rights

As part of the processes to ensure your safe care during your stay, you will be asked to confirm your name and other details several times. This starts when you arrive at reception, with your admitting nurse, and continues when you are transferred to the procedure room or operating theatre. Your surgeon, anaesthetist and nurses will also take a short ‘time out’ to complete a final check immediately before your procedure begins.

To ensure a physically safe environment for all patients and health practitioners, we have eliminated all possible manual lifting by using mechanical aids as well as safe positioning and holding methods.

Our staff will use the information you supply in the Patient Health Questionnaire to understand your physical status and plan for your care.

Southern Cross hospitals are smoke-free in accordance with the Smoke-free Environments Act. Southern Cross is committed to delivering your care in accordance with the Code of the Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights.

Your privacy is important to us. Please review the privacy statement at the bottom of the forms to fill out sheet included in your information pack.

Health & Disability Commissioner

Patient feedback - compliments, concerns and complaints

We want to give patients the best possible healthcare experience, so your feedback – good or bad – is very important to us. We want to hear from you, whether you'd like to give a compliment, raise a concern or make a complaint.

There are a number of ways you can provide feedback.

Share with us directly

We understand that complaining can feel uncomfortable. However, complaints help us improve our service to other patients, so if you have a concern please let us know. We’ll do our best to listen and to learn from what you tell us. We will deal with any complaint or concern fairly and promptly. And if you make a complaint your treatment will not be affected.

The credentialled practitioners who treat patients at our Southern Cross Hospitals are independent practitioners and are not employees of Southern Cross Healthcare. Where a complaint is received that involves an individual who is not an employee of Southern Cross Healthcare, for example a credentialled practitioner, we will support this process.

We are also committed to working constructively with other providers where they receive a complaint involving our services.

Cemplicity - our patient engagement survey

We invite every patient to complete a voluntary survey after discharge. Our survey is short and, depending on the comments you may wish to provide, it can be completed in about three minutes.

The survey will be emailed to you two weeks following your discharge. It is administered by a third party, Cemplicity, who specialise in this type of survey. Your responses are anonymous unless you ask for us to contact you. No one from Southern Cross Healthcare can see your details, so you can be open with your feedback.

Formal complaints to the Health and Disability Commissioner

If you are unhappy about the care you or a loved one has received, or you consider your concern is unresolved, you have the right to escalate your complaint.

We encourage you to communicate with us directly in the first instance, using one of the methods outlined above, to give us the opportunity to resolve the issue promptly, to learn, and improve. You also have the right to make a formal complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner.

The purpose of the Health and Disability Commissioner is to promote and protect the rights of consumers as set out in the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights. You can learn more about this complaints process at Making a complaint - Health and Disability Commissioner.

The Health and Disability Commissioner Advocacy Service

If you feel uncomfortable making a complaint direct to your healthcare provider, or would like some support or guidance, an advocate service is available free through the Advocacy - Health and Disability Advocacy Service.

Independent advocates can help you understand your rights, talk through your options, and support you through the process.

Useful resources

Based on our assessment of resources currently available here in New Zealand, we thought it might be helpful to offer some general information about surgical specialties and procedures.

These include helpful, well-researched information sites that deal with medical conditions, treatment options, information about surgical procedures and guidelines to assist patients in their recovery.

GPs and credentialled practitioners are best placed to advise you about specific procedures and you should always talk to your credentialled practitioner about any surgical procedure you are having done.

Useful sources of information about conditions and surgical procedures

Healthify He Puna Waiora
Southern Cross Healthcare Post Cataract Surgery Care Brochure

Information about anaesthesia

This information is for prospective patients interested in learning general information about anaesthetists and surgical practices

Healthify He Puna Waiora - New Zealand Anaesthetisa Overview

Enhanced Recovery After Surgery

The patient-centred Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) pathway aims to ensure that people:

  • are in the best possible condition for surgery
  • have the best possible management during and after their operation
  • participate in the best possible rehabilitation after surgery.

Frequently asked questions

Is it OK to continue smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol the day before my surgery?

Answer: We recommend that you avoid alcohol, cigarettes and non-prescribed medications or substances (other than your prescribed medications) for at least 24 hours prior to your admission. You may wish to consider using nicotine replacement prior to, during and after your hospital stay. Please talk to your specialist about this before your admission. See Medication FAQs (below) for more information.

What if my health has changed or I have a cold or skin infection?

Answer: If there have been any recent changes in your health, please advise your anaesthetist, surgeon or Southern Cross Hospitals nursing staff at the earliest opportunity.  For example, if you develop a cold, infection or flu, have a skin infection, scratch or sore, vomiting or diarrhea, or suffer from an asthma attack prior to your admission, you should let your specialist or the hospital know as soon as possible - as it may be necessary to postpone your procedure. 

When should I stop eating and drinking?

Answer: If you are undergoing surgery, your stomach must be empty and therefore it is very important to ask your specialist when you should stop eating and drinking (this includes chewing gum and sweets) before admission. It can be very dangerous to eat or drink before your procedure as it can cause you to vomit while you are under anaesthesia and it is possible you will inhale the vomit into your lungs, causing damage and affecting your breathing.

Here are some general guidelines, but you will receive specific instructions from your specialist, as individual requirements may differ.

Adults and children over 2 years:  Do not eat anything for 6 hours before your admission time. You may drink WATER freely up until 2 hours before your admission, then nothing more.  

Children under 2 years: Cows milk or formula may be taken up to 6 hours prior to admission time and breast milk up to 4 hours before admission. Water only up until 2 hours prior to admission and then nothing more. 

Can I leave my MedicAlert bracelet or pendant on?

Answer: Yes, it is very important that you leave your MedicAlert bracelet, pendant or other MedicAlert item on at all times. It is also important that you indicate that you have a MedicAlert or any other allergy or sensitivity on your Health Questionnaire Form and verbally on admission to your credentialled practitioner and nurses.

Do I bring my usual medications in with me?

Answer: You should discuss with your specialist any regular medications you are taking. It is important that you bring all your usual medications and other remedies in the original containers to hospital with you - as well as a printout of your medications from your GP or pharmacy/chemist that includes the dosage and how often you take them. A detailed list from your general practitioner will help your doctors ensure the correct medications are continued for you. Medicines include tablets/pills, syrups, ointments, inhalers, injections, herbal remedies, homeopathic and complementary medicines, vitamins and other supplements. 

Should I tell my specialist if I take natural supplements, herbal, homeopathic or other medicines not prescribed by my GP or specialist?

Answer: Yes, always tell your anaesthetist, specialist and/or registered nurse about any vitamins, herbal remedies, homeopathic medications or supplements that you are taking, as these may interfere with conventional drugs and anaesthetics.  As a rule of thumb, do not take non-prescribed medications or substances for a week before surgery unless your anaesthetist or specialist has specifically stated that you can.

Please refer to Your Anaesthetic leaflet, produced by New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists - a copy of which is included in your Admission Pack.

Should I keep taking my usual medications?

Answer: If you are being admitted on the day of your surgery, yes, continue to take your regular medications as prescribed - unless advised otherwise by your specialist. Patients on anticoagulants need to take special care. Anticoagulants (blood thinning medications) e.g. Warfarin, Plavix, Persantin, should not be taken prior to surgery without consulting your specialist. Aspirin or Disprin may be discontinued in the week prior to surgery or your specialist may request you continue to take it. Please check with your specialist about whether you should continue with any medications, including aspirin or disprin.

Can I bring my child in for a visit prior to their surgery date?

Answer: We encourage you to do this but please phone the hospital in advance to organise a convenient time for a visit.

Do I need to bring food for my child?

Answer: We provide food designed specially for children but if you would like to bring some special snacks you are welcome to do so, remembering that this is not to be given to your child until nursing staff have given the OK.

Will my meals meet my special dietary requirements?

Answer: Yes – please inform us of any special requirement on the Health Questionnaire form in your admission pack and when you arrive at the hospital. As long as your surgery allows, your dietary requirements will be met. 

Will the hospital or my surgeon phone my next of kin contact person when I have had my procedure?

Answer: Your surgeon may contact your next of kin; however your next of kin is welcome to phone the hospital at any time for an update. 

Can I take my body tissue that has been removed home with me?

Answer: Where this is possible yes, every effort is made to return body tissue where this is requested. Please document your request on the Health Questionnaire form in your admission pack and let the nursing staff know of your wishes on admission. In some cases the tissue needs to be analysed and will go to the laboratory immediately following your surgery. You will be informed if this is the case and advised about how you can make arrangements to pick it up from the laboratory. 

Can I drive myself home?

Answer: To ensure the safety of others and yourself, NZ Law prohibits driving following anaesthesia or after taking other medications known to impair a person’s ability to drive. Please arrange for a relative or friend to take you home, or use a taxi (we recommend that you do not use public transport).

Do I need to see my specialist again?

Answer: In most cases you will need to make a follow-up appointment with your specialist if an appointment has not already been arranged for you by our staff. This is usually done by phoning your specialist within a day or so of leaving the hospital. If you have any problems before that appointment please contact your specialist or general practitioner immediately.

What should I do when I get home?

Answer: You should arrange for a responsible adult to stay with you for 24 hours after you get home. We recommend that during that time you should rest, avoid alcohol, cigarettes and non-prescribed medications or substances (other than those prescribed by your doctor) and follow the instructions of your doctor and/or hospital staff. In the first 24 hours following surgery you should not drive a vehicle or operate any machinery. You are also advised not to make any important decisions or sign any legal documents. 

I have not received a Patient Admission Pack from my surgeon?

Answer: Please contact your surgeon’s rooms and request one. 

When should I complete the forms in the Patient Admission Pack?

Answer: Please allow enough time for all completed forms to reach the hospital at least one week before your admission. Please take mailing time into account.

Once the decision has been made for you to have surgery or a procedure at Southern Cross Hospital, you will be given a Patient Admission Pack. This pack includes admission information and hospital “Forms to fill out” that require completion prior to your first visit. Please also list your current medications, any special dietary requirements, any food preferences, and any special needs you may have on your admission form and we will endeavour to meet your requirements.

Our hospital patients’ experience