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Find By Procedure

Home / Preparing for Scheduled Surgery / Steps to Scheduled Surgery

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Steps to Scheduled Surgery

While the experience of receiving scheduled surgery is unique for every patient, the process can generally be understood in three parts:

At each step, there are actions you can take to ensure the best possible outcome from your surgery (e.g. giving up smoking). These questions can help you ask your doctor and surgeon about how to best prepare for surgery.

Smiling patient talking to a medical professional

1Seeing Your Doctor

Working With Your Doctor

  • To address a health issue or concern, you may visit your family doctor or another specialist. You may see your doctor several times and they may order tests or prescribe various treatments and medications.

Wait to See a Surgeon

One of the wait times in B.C. is the time that starts when a patient is referred to a surgeon and ends when a patient sees their surgeon for the first time.


Being Referred to a Surgeon

  • If surgery is an option for you, you and your doctor may decide that an appointment with a surgeon is necessary. If so, the doctor will refer you to a surgeon.

  • These questions can help you discuss referral options with your doctor.

Waiting to See a Surgeon

  • Once the surgeon’s office receives your referral, they will contact you to schedule an appointment.

  • The surgeon’s office will provide you with an estimate of how long you are likely to wait to see the surgeon; information about how best to prepare for the appointment; and how you can contact the surgeon’s office if needed.

  • During this time, you may continue to work with your family doctor to manage your condition and symptoms and prepare for your first visit with a surgeon.

Medical professional talking to patient

2Seeing Your Surgeon

Visits with Your Surgeon

  • You may see your surgeon several times. They will assess you and may order tests or prescribe various treatments and medications.

  • Not everyone seen by a surgeon will require surgery. For some patients, a non-surgical treatment may be more appropriate, and even patients who eventually go on to surgery may spend time in the care of a surgeon trying non-surgical treatments first.

Deciding on Surgery

  • You and your surgeon may decide that surgery is the best option to address your condition. These questions can help guide your discussions with your surgeon about deciding to have surgery and how best to prepare.

  • Only patients who are medically ready can be booked for surgery. For some patients, your surgeon will want you to meet certain criteria before considering you medically ready (for example, completion of certain tests, stabilization of other condition(s), required weight loss, etc.).

Being Ready for Surgery

  • Once you are ready for surgery, your surgeon’s office will send a booking package to the appropriate health authority and indicate your priority for the procedure.

  • The surgeon’s office will provide you with information about your upcoming procedure; details on how to contact the office if you need to; and may be able to provide you with an estimate of your expected wait time.

Surgeon performing surgery

3Waiting for Surgery

Being on the Waitlist

  • Once received, the health authority will place you on your surgeon’s waitlist.

  • At this point, the health authority will contact you and provide you with information on your upcoming procedure; an estimate of your expected wait time; and details on how to contact the health authority if you need to.

  • While you are on your surgeon’s waitlist, you may be required to see other practitioners, attend a pre-op clinic or program, or participate in research. The health authority will provide you with more information when this applies to you.

  • If there are periods when you will be unavailable for surgery, you are expected to let your surgeon and health authority know.

  • If the surgeon’s schedule has changed, they are expected to let you know about alternate arrangements that are available.

Wait for Surgery

One of the wait times in B.C. is the time that starts when the booking form is received by the health authority and ends when the patient receives scheduled surgery.


Getting your Date for Surgery

  • The health authority will provide you with a date for your surgery.

  • Surgeries are booked based on a number of factors, including your priority as determined by your surgeon using the standardized provincial tool; the order you were added to the wait list; and the availability of the necessary resources to complete your surgery.

  • Before your surgery date, you may attend a screening clinic, have a pre-op physical with your family doctor, or undergo additional diagnostic or laboratory tests. The health authority will provide you with more information when this applies to you.

Your Day of Surgery

  • As the date of your surgery nears, there may be additional steps for you to complete. If this is the case, your family doctor, surgeon, or health authority will provide you with information about what actions are required.

Health Authorities in B.C.