The proliferation of same-day surgery has changed health care in a dramatic way over the past two decades. Not only can same-day surgeries alleviate overcrowding in hospitals, they can also decrease a patient’s health care costs, decrease rehab time, and diminish the financial loss of taking time off from work to have surgery performed.

Before the rise of same-day surgeries, whether it was open-heart surgery, removal of tonsils, or orthopedic scoping procedures, a patient would be relegated to multiple days and multiple costs of hospital care. This is not the case in today’s medical world where immediacy reigns when at all feasible.

The Rise of Immediacy – From Patient to Outpatient

According to the Living Well blog, outpatient surgeries rose from half of all surgeries in 1996 to two-thirds of all surgeries in 2006. Where did this all begin? How did patients transition from three-day stays to arriving home in time for the six o’ clock news?

Laparoscopic (minimally invasive) techniques have altered a medical practitioner’s need for size and space. Therefore, what used to require a large, fully-equipped operating room can now be performed in a much smaller, cost-efficient outpatient care facility.

Precision instruments that have gone from bulky to miniature have also made same day surgeries common. The smallest instruments range from two to ten millimeters and can free doctors from having to make large incisions so they may work within very small ones. Lumbar fusion and removal of damage caused by a herniated disc are two examples of procedures that used to require close to a week’s stay in a hospital and an incision that could be as large as 15 centimeters. A physician also used to have to clear a path to the spine, which could cause pain and damage to the tissue.

Today, microscopes and x-ray imagery control precise modern tools that clear a more direct path to the spine. The same can be said of hip replacements that used to require slicing muscle, a painful procedure. Today, a prosthesis can relieve pain faster while increasing potential mobility at a higher rate and faster pace. The less you have to disrupt the inside of the body, the quicker the possibility for rehab and the smaller the chances of large permanent scarring.

Why are minimally invasive same day surgeries good for patients and practitioners?

  • Advancements in anesthesia have meant that patients regain consciousness in a shorter period of time, allowing them to leave the care facility more quickly.
  • A doctor’s time, along with their expertise, can be his or her most valuable asset. Same day surgeries allow doctors to spend that asset on patients with more immediate and dire concerns.
  • Cost. Follow the money. Less time in the hospital means fewer expenses from hospitalization. Generally healthy – and often young – people don’t have to be saddled with financially crippling health care bills that destroy a fiscal future.
  • Large, permanent scarring is decreased, thus allowing a patient to maintain a proud sense of self.
  • Many people undergoing medical procedures experience a loss in wages. Same day surgeries allow many to return to their place of employment quicker so they do not lose status or wages. They can bank their personal and sick time for situations that demand more attention.

Experts say the rise of same day surgeries has not yet reached its peak. The goals are two-fold: patient care and physician efficiency. For the relationship between health care practitioner and patient to be effective, both parties must feel satisfied with the experience and recovery. Same day surgeries have benefited both greatly.

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