Outpatient Surgery Centers Offer Patients Another Alternative

Doctors now perform many elective surgical procedures at outpatient surgery centers, which means you can go home on the same day. Although ambulatory surgery centers give many patients better access to medical procedures they need, proper preparation can help you avoid complications as you recover at home.

Leading to the Procedure

Plan on bringing someone with you to your surgical appointment to take you home afterward. That same person should come with you to your preoperative evaluation at which time you will sign consent forms and complete any additional paperwork your treatment requires. Most health plans also require prior approval for surgical procedures.

Preoperative Evaluation

During your preoperative evaluation, members of your health care team will explain what to expect both on the day of the procedure and after discharge. An anesthesiologist will discuss with you the type of anesthesia you will be given. Your surgeon will also talk with you to explain more about your particular procedure and answer questions you may have. He or she will inform you of the risks associated with the procedure and potential complications that may occur during or following surgery.

This is the time to let the doctor know if you smoke or drink alcohol since these can affect your recovery from anesthesia or surgery. It's also important to let the surgeon and anesthesiologist know about any allergies or other medical problems you have. Be sure to provide a full list of prescription and over-the-counter medications, nutritional supplements, or herbal remedies you are taking.

In addition to pre-surgery testing that may include a chest x-ray, blood and urine tests, and an electrocardiogram, you will receive instructions about:

  • What medications, including blood thinners and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, to stop taking in the days before your surgery

  • Whether your surgery requires a bowel prep

  • How to adjust insulin or other diabetes medication in the days leading up to the procedure

  • At what time on the night before your surgery to stop eating and drinking

You should also contact your health insurer prior to your surgery to find out how much of the cost your health plan will cover and what costs related to the surgery, including deductibles, you are responsible for paying out of pocket. If the surgeon or hospital isn't a network provider, check your health plan contract to see whether the plan allows the use of out-of-network providers.

Post-Surgical Instructions

Your health care team will also instruct you on what to do following your discharge from the outpatient surgery center. Post-surgical instructions as you recover from home include:

  • Having someone stay with you for at least 24 hours after you return home

  • What problems, such as swelling or infection, to watch for

  • What medications or other steps to take to manage postoperative pain

  • When you can resume a normal diet

  • Whether you need to schedule physical or occupational therapy as part of your recovery plan

  • When to see your surgeon for a follow-up visit

  • How soon you can return to your normal daily activities

On the day of your outpatient surgical procedure, you will be discharged from the outpatient care center when your vital signs are stable and the anesthesiologist determines that you are fully awake. You will not be allowed to drive; therefore, make certain to bring a driver with you.