You may have heard the terms inpatient and outpatient surgery and wondered what the difference is between the two. Someone who has inpatient surgery is admitted to the hospital for at least one overnight stay to recover from their surgical procedure. On the other hand, an outpatient surgery doesn’t require an overnight stay — the patient can leave later in the day to return home.
The Differences Between the Two
Many outpatient procedures take place at an outpatient surgical or ambulatory center. These types of procedures also tend to be less complicated than inpatient surgeries. That’s why the physician feels comfortable allowing the patient to leave just a few hours after surgery is completed, while inpatient surgeries require observation to ensure no complications develop.
A rise in ambulatory centers has increased the number of outpatient surgeries performed. Advanced technology has also helped — procedures are more precise than ever, sometimes even involving robotic assistance. The less invasive the surgery is, the fewer complications and time it takes for the patient to heal.
Patients can also benefit from the opportunity to heal at home. Most people feel more comfortable in their own homes vs. staying at the hospital. In a hospital, you may be woken up to draw blood several times each night or have trouble sleeping because of the noise. At home, you can concentrate solely on feeling better.
Why Is Outpatient Surgery Less Expensive Than Inpatient Surgery?
There’s often a stark difference between inpatient vs. outpatient surgery costs — one study found that inpatient surgery costs 350% more than outpatient. Someone staying for inpatient surgery faces expenses for everything from the room they stay in to the food they eat while they’re in the hospital. It can cost thousands of dollars for just one night in the hospital, even when you have good health insurance.
What Surgeries Are Typically Inpatient and Outpatient?
Many minimally invasive surgeries can be performed on an outpatient basis. We schedule numerous surgeries as outpatient procedures, allowing our patients to go home a few hours after surgery, provided they can walk and seem lucid. They still need someone to drive them home, as they require a quiet, restful recovery. A few of the procedures you can get on an outpatient basis include tennis elbow surgery, partial knee replacement and arthroscopic knee surgery.
More complex surgeries often take place in the hospital. These require a longer recovery time, and the physician will want to keep an eye on the patient to ensure everything went as planned. If complications do arise with this surgery, the hospital staff can step in immediately.
Inpatient surgeries may include a:
Your doctor should speak to you before a procedure to discuss whether it will be done as an inpatient vs. outpatient surgery. Then, you can plan ahead to have someone take you home afterward and ensure you have everything you need for recovery.