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by Carolyn Clancy, M.D., A.H.R.Q., AARP Bulletin, April 7, 2010
If you need surgery, there’s a better-than-average chance that you’ll have it and go home the same day. That’s good news for several reasons, but same-day surgery does require some planning on your part.
Thanks to advances in technology and anesthesia, nearly six of every 10 surgeries performed at hospitals are done as outpatient procedures, which means you go home the same day you have your surgery. Almost 35 million such surgeries are performed each year in the United States.
For example, most eye and ear surgeries are performed as same-day surgeries, and so are some skin procedures. In some cases, you can have your gallbladder removed at 7 a.m. and be home by noon. Many of these surgeries are done at surgery centers or in doctors’ offices.
This shift to same-day surgery can result in lower costs. For some patients, same-day surgery is more convenient and safer than staying in the hospital. But no surgery is risk-free. Same-day surgery means that you, or the people who help take care of you, may have to change your bandages or manage your pain medicines.
There are several steps you can take to increase your chances for a successful surgery. My agency, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), offers a free guide, “Having Surgery? What You Need to Know,” that provides advice and resources to help you prepare for surgery.
Some surgeries must be done right away. But many are not urgent, which means you have time to talk with your doctor and decide what course is best for you. Before your surgery, you should:
If you decide surgery is right for you, take the following steps to improve your chances of a successful surgery and full recovery:
Research shows that patients who ask questions and are informed about their surgeries typically work better with their doctors in making the best decisions about their care. Being prepared before having surgery will help ensure that you have a smooth recovery.
I’m Dr. Carolyn Clancy, and that’s my advice on how to navigate the health care system.
Carolyn M. Clancy, a general internist and researcher, is an expert in engaging consumers in their health care. She is the director of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
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