December 15, 2009
Shawn B. Mathews, MD, discusses an outpatient procedure with Jennifer and Samantha Glosser of Phoenix.
Pictures of family and friends, a lava lamp, and her pet rat, Mickey, surround Phoenix fifth-grader Samantha Glosser in her pink and black bedroom. And, in her room, surrounded by familiar and comforting items, is where she recovered from outpatient surgery for chronic sinus infections.
"The first time I heard she was going to have outpatient surgery, I was concerned. Now I prefer outpatient surgery, with a hospital close by," said her mother, Jennifer Glosser.
"It was a more comfortable environment, and the care was very individualized. She was catered to. It was all about her. That's how they made me feel."
Medical Innovations Allow Patients to Recover at Home
While not all procedures can be performed in an outpatient setting, more outpatient surgeries are performed today because of technological advances in medicine: less invasive procedures, better pain management and faster recovery time from anesthesia.
"Often, the time required to recover from the aftereffects of anesthesia was a more compelling reason for an overnight stay than the time required to recover from the procedure itself," said Shawn B. Mathews, MD, of Valley Ear, Nose & Throat Surgeons, who practices at both John C. Lincoln Hospitals. He's certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology.
Shawn B. Mathews, MD, explains why outpatient surgery has become so popular with patients.
"Less invasive techniques also allow us to perform outpatient procedures on patients with other health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease," he added. "Previously, the underlying condition would require more postoperative hospital care than the actual surgery."
For Samantha's procedure, Dr. Mathews used a very tiny balloon to expand the sinus cavity rather than metal instruments.
That advancement turned the surgery into an outpatient procedure, he said.
"Everyone was focusing on me, not everything else," said Samantha, who also has been in the hospital inpatient setting. John C. Lincoln Health Network recently opened two new outpatient surgery centers, outside the hospital setting, but located on the Deer Valley and the North Mountain campuses.
"Most people, if their condition permits, would rather go home on the day of the procedure. It's convenient for patients. Today, we don't keep patients in the hospital unless they need follow up care," said Lois Hoke, RN, director of Perioperative Services at John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital.
"In the outpatient setting, you have everything that a hospital would have for your care and it's fully credentialed. If needed, patients have full access to the nearby hospital, and the surgery center has the full resources of the hospital and its staff."
Majority of Surgical Procedures Now Are Outpatient
Hospital-owned outpatient centers, such as this one on the North Mountain Hospital campus, must meet the higher standards of the hospital.
The first outpatient, or ambulatory, center opened in 1970, and today, more than 20 million outpatient procedures are performed each year, according to the national Ambulatory Surgery Center Association. In the 1980s, the majority of surgeries; about 81 percent — were performed in hospitals. Today, inpatient surgeries at hospitals are the minority, less than 40 percent of all surgeries.
Nationally, hospitals own 3 percent of these centers, and hospital-owned centers must meet the higher inpatient accreditation standards of the hospital, even when the center isn't located inside the hospital, according to Linda Cundiff, director of the John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Outpatient Surgery Center on the campus of John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital.
Convenient Scheduling, Calmer Environment
Outpatient surgery centers offer convenience to patients and physicians with quicker scheduling as well. For example, if a patient is having a breast biopsy to detect or rule out cancer, the quicker the appointment, the better.
Going to a hospital, even to visit someone else, tends to create anxiety for adults and children, Dr. Mathews said.
John C. Lincoln North Mountain Outpatient Surgery Center
9250 N. Third St.
John C. Lincoln Deer Valley
Outpatient Surgery Center
19646 N. 27th Ave.
"For children, especially, an outpatient surgery center can be calmer. It does not look like a traditional hospital setting, even though we have all of the same technology," he said.
"You won't hear overhead pages and see bustling emergency activity. With the smaller setting as well, nurses have more time to spend with children."
Outpatient surgery is ideal for patients who are well and healthy, except for a surgical need. Pam Chester of Phoenix had outpatient surgery at Deer Valley for carpal tunnel syndrome. She was nervous because she had never had surgery before, but her experience was good.
Everyone was attentive and answered her questions, she said. Then she echoed the main reason people like outpatient surgery.
"But, I would say getting home was the best part," she said. "We have a big yellow dog, Buddy, and he just stayed right there with me while I recovered."
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