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Outpatient Vs. Inpatient Surgery Information

what's the difference?

Outpa­tient surgery is when you have a surgi­cal proce­dure done and then later that same day you go home. Outpa­tient surgery can also be called same-day” surgery or ambu­la­tory surgery. 

Inpa­tient surgery, on the other hand, is when you have surgery and are required to spend at least one night in the hospi­tal. It depends on the type of proce­dure that needs to be performed. There are many differ­ent things that surgeons and anes­the­si­ol­o­gists will consider to deter­mine if a patient is required to stay.


What else should I know about Inpa­tient Surgery?
With all the new advances with tech­nol­ogy, anes­the­sia meth­ods, and how your pain is managed, many surg­eries are now being performed as outpatient. 

Not every­one will be able to have outpa­tient surgery because of the type of proce­dure that needs to be performed. There are many differ­ent things that surgeons and anes­the­si­ol­o­gists will consider to deter­mine if a patient qual­i­fies for same day surgery or if the surgery will require you to stay.

How quickly can I go home after outpa­tient surgery?
The type of surgi­cal proce­dure, type of anes­the­sia, and your medical history will deter­mine your length of stay. 

The type of anes­the­sia you were given (how you are sedated or if you were asleep for your surgery) will deter­mine where you recover from surgery. You will either be taken to the postanes­the­sia care unit (PACU) or an outpa­tient post­op­er­a­tive care area (Step­down or Phase II recov­ery). When you are in these areas, you will be moni­tored for a period of time and you may need to demon­strate some simple tasks before you can leave. These tasks may include drink­ing some fluids with­out getting sick to your stom­ach. In some cases, you may need to be required to pass urine as well.

What do I need to know before I go home?
Before you are sent home, the nurse will go over your discharge instruc­tions with you and your family/​friend. The goal is to teach you what you will need to do when you are home. The nurse will go over the follow­ing with you:

  • Activ­i­ties you can do
  • What you are allowed to eat
  • How to help manage your pain
  • When you should see your doctor again
  • How to take care of your wound/​stitches
  • Anything special related to the proce­dure you had done
  • The medi­cine you are taking
  • It is very impor­tant that you ask ques­tions and are famil­iar with how to care for your­self once you leave.

Can I drive myself home?
NO. After you have outpa­tient surgery, you are not allowed to drive home. It is also required that you have a family/​friend stay with you for 24 hours after your proce­dure if you have had general anes­the­sia. If you do not have a ride home your proce­dure will be cancelled. 

Will some­one follow up on me after surgery?
A nurse will usually call you the next day. He or she will ask you how you are doing and ask if you have any further ques­tions. Please make sure that the phone number you give on admis­sion is correct and a number where they can easily get in touch with you.

Why is it impor­tant for me to know what to expect?
Having surgery can make you nervous. Know­ing what to expect can help answer any ques­tions you may have and help you feel more comfort­able with what you are having done. Every surgery is differ­ent. Your surgeon can provide all the details, infor­ma­tion and answer your ques­tions for you. The more you know about your proce­dure, the better you can take part in getting well.


What should I bring for an overnight stay?

  • Leave anything that is impor­tant or of value to you at home. Your personal belong­ings (wallet, phone, and purse) will be stored and kept safe while in surgery and then brought to you when you are done.
  • Wear and bring comfort­able cloth­ing you will be allowed to change into your own personal garment items after the procedure.
  • Bring items you will need after surgery i.e. crutches, cane, walker, CPAP, BiPAP device, etc.
  • If you have completed an Advance Direc­tive, Power of Attor­ney, Durable Power of Health Care Attor­ney, or a Living Will, bring it with you the day of surgery.
  • When you are in your room, you will meet your nurse and be shown how you can reach the nurse. The nurse will also help you become famil­iar with what is in your room, your call button and any other equip­ment that you might need to know about.
  • The nurse will go over what the doctor has ordered includ­ing your medica­tions, what you can eat and how much activ­ity you are allowed.