March 09, 2015
Planning Ahead for Outpatient Surgery: Key to Safe, Successful Outcome
(Schaumburg, Ill.) – March 8, 2015 – A hospital stay is not necessary for many surgical patients today, as nearly two-thirds of procedures are performed at outpatient facilities. But as with in-hospital surgeries, most outpatient procedures require anesthesia, and planning ahead can help patients have a safe and successful experience.
“Whether having a mole removed, a hernia repaired or a knee replaced, patients may not realize there are a number of things they can do to increase the likelihood of an excellent outcome,” said J.P. Abenstein, M.S.E.E., M.D., president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists® (ASA®). “For example, it’s important that patients are as healthy as possible, closely follow pre-operative directions and confirm that the center where their surgery is taking place and the health professionals in charge of their care have the needed qualifications and certifications.”
Physician anesthesiologists play a key role in patient safety by meeting with the patient before surgery (whether in the hospital or outpatient setting), closely monitoring the anesthesia and vital body functions during the operation and monitoring the patient after the procedure to assure a smooth recovery and that pain is controlled.
In conjunction with Patient Safety Awareness Week, ASA developed an outpatient surgery checklist to help patients prepare for a procedure outside the hospital setting:
- Do your homework – Before surgery, make sure:
- The surgeon/physician is board certified in the appropriate specialty by visiting www.certificationmatters.org. Find out if the surgeon – as well as the nurses and other staff – have plenty of experience performing the specific procedure you are having.
- The facility is licensed – If you’re having the procedure at an outpatient surgery center or at a physician’s office, be sure it’s licensed (check with your state’s health department) and accredited by an organization such as The Joint Commission, the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) or the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF).
- Emergency procedures are in place – While complications are rare, they happen, so be sure the center has emergency medications and equipment in place and has established emergency procedures, particularly if there is no emergency facility nearby. Ask if the facility has a crash cart and, if you stop breathing, does the center have the equipment, and do the providers have the training, to help you breathe.
- Find out who will provide the anesthesia – As with surgery that requires a hospital stay, an outpatient procedure will require some type of anesthesia. Be sure your anesthesia care is led by a physician anesthesiologist, a medical doctor who specializes in anesthesia, pain and critical care medicine and works with your surgeon to develop and administer your anesthesia care plan. With 12 to 14 years of education and 12,000-16,000 hours of clinical training, these highly trained medical specialists help ensure safe, high-quality care.
- Discuss your medications and health – When you talk with your physician anesthesiologist before surgery, be sure to discuss your complete health history, including conditions you have, as well as provide a list of all of the medications, supplements and even vitamins you take. Some can cause problems during surgery by reacting with the anesthesia. Your physician anesthesiologist may tell you to stop taking certain medications for a period of time prior to surgery.
- Follow pre-surgical directions – For most types of anesthesia (other than local), you may be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight before your procedure. This is for your safety because – although rare – food or liquid in your stomach could get into your lungs while you’re under anesthesia. Ask the facility or your physician anesthesiologist for guidance. In some cases, you may be able to drink clear liquids.
- Plan for recovery time – It will take time to recover from anesthesia and surgery; the amount of time depends on the surgery and type of anesthesia you have. Be sure a friend or family member waits for you during your procedure, brings you home afterward and stays with you for at least 24 hours because you will need to rest and likely will need help. Also, you may not be able to drive for awhile, especially if you are taking pain medication.
- Do your best to get healthy – Spend time before the procedure exercising, eating right and getting good sleep so that you’re in the best shape possible to have surgery. It’s also very important to stop smoking. Smoking can cause problems with breathing and recovery from anesthesia, including complications such as wound infections, pneumonia and heart attack.
Physician anesthesiologists play a vital role before, during and after surgery. To learn more, visit asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount.
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 52,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.
For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount.
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