How to be prepared for outpatient surgery

Nov 15, 2022

SJ/C Pooler outpatient surgery manager explains nine things you need to know before heading into surgery

The volume of outpatient surgery procedures is trending up thanks to improvements in technology. Robotic, laparoscopic and other minimally-invasive surgical techniques mean short stays and quicker recovery times for patients.

Outpatient surgery, also referred to as day surgery, is a procedure performed that does not require an overnight hospital stay. Patients of outpatient surgery typically can go home within 23-hours of their procedure as opposed to inpatient surgery, which requires a lengthier hospital visit. Today, a lot of outpatient surgeries require an even shorter stay sometimes less than four hours, says Alison White, SJ/C Candler Pooler outpatient surgery manager.

St. Joseph’s/Candler offers outpatient surgery at both our flagship hospitals. We have an outpatient Surgical Specialty Center in Savannah across from St. Joseph’s Hospital on Mercy Boulevard, which has three operating rooms. We also have an outpatient surgery facility at the St. Joseph’s/Candler Pooler Campus, which has two operating rooms and two endoscopy suites, White says.

A large range of outpatient surgeries are performed including gallbladder removal, appendectomies, foot and ankle corrections, hernia repairs, ENT procedures, cosmetic surgery, GYN surgeries, and other general surgery needs, as well as gastroenterology scopes.

St. Joseph’s/Candler has performed more than 21,450 outpatient procedures in the last 12 months across all of our locations.

“We do as much preparation leading up to your surgery as we can so there are no issues the day of your surgery, and you can return home and return to work safely,” White says.

If you or a loved one needs any type of outpatient surgery, we want you to be prepared – especially for the amount of phone calls and questions you will be asked. Here are a few things you should know leading up to and during your outpatient surgery procedure:

  1. You will receive a phone call prior to your surgery to determine if you need to come in for a pre-screening. During this phone call, the nurse will ask a series of questions about your health, medical history and current medications. The answers will help the nurse decide if you need to come in for further work-up before your surgery.
  2. If you do need to come in for pre-screening, you will meet with a pre-screening nurse to again go over your medical history and any medications you are taking. You may also need lab work and tests done before your surgery such as chest X-ray or EKG. The registration process and paperwork may also be done during your pre-screening appointment.
  3. The day before your surgery, expect another phone call to confirm the time you need to arrive before your surgery and any additional instructions. (Additionally, you may get another call from billing registration to go over the cost, especially any up-front cost, anticipated.)
  4. It is very important to not eat or drink anything eight hours prior to the arrival time of your procedure. For most people, you will be advised not to eat or drink anything after midnight. If you are having an afternoon surgery, exceptions may be made, but the eight-hour window still applies, White says. The nurse will inform you on what to do regarding this and your medications.
  5. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Also, be sure to leave your jewelry and valuables at home so they don’t get misplaced. St. Joseph’s/Candler is not responsible for lost items. You may also want to bring a jacket, sweater or light blanket if you tend to get cold.
  6. Bring some form of entertainment. You may want to bring a book or something to keep you occupied. We strive to keep your wait to a minimum, but your surgeon may be delayed by a previous appointment or procedure.
  7. Bring someone to drive you home. This is true of every procedure. You will not be released until someone is present to drive you.
  8. Be prepared for any length of stay. Again, we strive to keep your wait as short as possible. The length of your stay after surgery depends on several factors including the seriousness of your procedure and any lingering illnesses or potential complications that may cause your recovery time to be extended.
  9. MOST IMPORTANTLY, be prepared to answer a lot of questions – over and over and over and over again. You will be asked your name and date of birth repeatedly. This is part of our safety standards. Please be patient. We are all working together to get you healthy and home safely.

“You will be asked a lot of questions, and over and over again from the time you get here, by every team that comes into the room,” White says. “It’s intentional, and it’s for your safety that we do it.”

Related Article: Why can’t I wear nail polish during surgery?

Outpatient surgeries are typically performed Monday through Friday at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Candler Hospital and the Pooler Campus, as well as the St. Joseph’s/Candler Surgical Specialty Center. To learn more about our outpatient surgery services, visit our website.

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