If I can't eat or drink the night before my medical procedure, what should I do for my daily medication?
If you take prescription medication every day like blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid,
diabetes, depression, or heart medications, it's important that you follow your doctor's
directions. Before medical procedures, you should ask your doctor about what to do about your
But what if you are having laboratory tests, a procedure, or are scheduled for medical or dental surgery? You may be directed to not eat or drink for a certain period of time before and after. For example, if you are on an aspirin-a-day-regimen to prevent heart attack, you may be told to stop your aspirin product several days before surgery, as aspirin may prevent blood from clotting. Stopping certain medications abruptly is not advised, either, as a patient may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as from antidepressants.
What to do? Communicate with your doctor about your daily medication before and after the medical procedure.
As many as 25% of patients undergoing surgery take a maintenance medication. It's very important to be aware and proactive about managing your regimen when a lab test or surgery is scheduled. Usually, before scheduled tests, procedures, or surgery, doctors or hospitals give the patient a checklist or tip sheet with instructions to follow, but many patients often still have questions.
If that's the case with you, be sure to ask your doctor questions like these:
- Should I still take all my regular medications before my particular lab test, procedure, or
before surgery? (Remember to make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you
take - whether oral, topical, or injectable; any prescribed by other doctors you see; as well
as over-the-counter drugs. Also, mention any supplements you take, such as nutritional
supplements or herbal products.)
- If I am not supposed to have food or drink the night before or morning of my test/surgery,
can I still take my oral medicine with water?
- If I am an inpatient after surgery, will I still receive my maintenance medication while in
- Will my medication and/or my regimen change as a result of my surgery?
- Could my regular medication interact with any pain relief medication I may be given after
If you are scheduled for surgery, be sure to review your complete medication regimen in your
preadmission conversations with hospital staff.