What is Outpatient Surgery?
Outpatient surgery allows a person to return home on the same day that a surgical procedure is performed. Outpatient surgery is also referred to as ambulatory surgery or same-day surgery.
- Outpatient surgery eliminates inpatient hospital admission, reduces the amount of medication prescribed, and uses a doctor's time more efficiently. More procedures are now being performed in a surgeon's office, termed office-based surgery, rather than in an operating room.
- Outpatient surgery is suited best for healthy people undergoing minor or intermediate procedures (limited urologic, ophthalmologic, or ear, nose, and throat procedures and procedures involving the extremities). Recently, people with more complex medical problems are undergoing outpatient surgery, and the types and complexity of surgical procedures have expanded significantly.
- More than half of elective surgery procedures in the United States are currently performed as outpatient surgeries. Health experts expect this amount will increase over the next decade.
- Outpatient surgery has developed over the past 3 decades for a number of reasons, including the following:
- Improved surgical instruments
- Less invasive surgical techniques
- A team approach in preparing a person for surgery and home recovery that involves both a surgeon and an anesthesiologist (a medical doctor who specializes in administering anesthesia medications so the patient feels minimal to no pain and does not remember the surgery)
- The desire to reduce health care costs
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/8/2016
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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