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How to Increase Safety for Your Hospital’s Outpatient Procedures

By Lisa Mulcahy via Multibriefs

Outpatient surgeries are becoming more and more common, even encompassing procedures like spinal fusion, retinal operations and total joint replacement. Hospitals and patients often prefer outpatient procedures because they lower costs and take less time than surgery might during a traditional hospital stay.

Yet, safety must also be paramount. As a hospital administrator, it has to be your first priority. Research has shown how specific outpatient procedure strategies can ensure great outcomes. Use the cutting-edge info below to evaluate and improve your facility's ambulatory care approach.

Select the right patients medically and emotionally.

Research from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found that complications from outpatient orthopedic surgery only occurred in 0.2% of 29,000 patients — infinitesimal odds indeed. The researchers behind this surgery stress the importance of selecting the right patients for these procedures in the first place, however.

Make sure each specific patient is healthy enough for an outpatient procedure, of course. Additionally, make sure your patient isn't likely to overly stress over choosing an outpatient procedure.

Those who aren't equipped to take responsibility for many aspects of their post-operative recovery duties, or who would just feel less fear being admitted, are better candidates for a traditional hospital stay.

Never skimp on screening.

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia and Georgia Regents University found that careful screening to make sure a patient is a healthy candidate for thyroid surgery is the key to success for minimally invasive outpatient procedures.

So, always cover all pre-testing bases. Also, make sure your patient's post-care is solid: this study also emphasized the importance of fully preparing at-home caregivers — whether they are family members or aides — on how to help patients' post-operative recovery go fast and complication-free.

Be thorough and detailed regarding recovery information.

A study from the Journal of Healthcare Quality found that outpatients do best when their surgeons are completely transparent about the potential rigors of recovery — including rehab requirements, length of bed rest, and physical restrictions. Patients in this study were most satisfied with their procedures overall if they knew what to expect specifically during the post-operative period.

Stay on top of complications.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research, most outpatient procedure complications happen within two weeks after a patient heads home. Be sure that your clinicians are checking in very early during the post-operative period by phone to ask patients about troubling symptoms that could indicate infections or other issues. Also, send several reminders regarding follow-up appointments to make sure patients are evaluated as promptly as possible.

Provide multiple types of patient information.

The more user-friendly data your patients get before and after a procedure, the better they'll feel and do. Handouts, references to online resources, and ensuring your doctors and nurses are available to answer questions and address any concerns are vitally important.

Be informative and helpful in any way you can to keep them safe, pain-free, and back to living their lives as fully and quickly as possible!

Lisa Mulcahy is an internationally established health writer whose credits include the Los Angeles Times, Redbook, Glamour, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Health, Good Housekeeping, Parade, Woman's Day, Family Circle and Seventeen. She is the author of eight best-selling books, including "The Essentials of Theater," an Amazon No. 1 new release.


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