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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.