Having Surgery Without Going To The Hospital: July 15, 2012

A growing number of patients are doing it - having their operations performed in outpatient surgery centers and going home in a matter of hours.

More patients are having more surgeries without ever stepping foot in the hospital, much less staying overnight.

“The technology is advancing so rapidly that procedures that used to require large incisions and long hospital stays can now be done on an outpatient basis,” says Lee Memorial Health System Chief Operating Officer Dr. Larry Antonucci.

The number of freestanding surgical centers tripled from 1996 to 2006, a trend that’s expected to continue. Lee Memorial Health System opened this center just over a year ago.  They provide the building, equipment and assisting staff; surgeons book a suite and their patients.

“This is a great opportunity for them as well. And consistently the physicians work with the same staff,” says Kathy Fairfax, surgery center director.

It’s a turnkey operation for Dr. Darren Miter, a surgeon with Lee Memorial Health System.

“Patients who are planning a gallbladder surgery, hernia surgery, removal of skin lesions, soft tissue masses, things like that, are very conducive for the outpatient surgery center,” says Dr. Miter.

You’ll notice there is no emergency room here; all the procedures are set up in advance. With no emergencies to shake up the schedule, surgery centers are streamlined and efficient.

“Because our patients tend to be healthier, they arrive, they go directly into surgery,” says Fairfax.

Among the most commonly performed procedures here are gastrointestinal, urological, gynecological, and breast surgeries.

“Back 20 years ago, the percentage might have been 10 or 20 percent and now it’s over 50 percent of procedures are being done on an outpatient basis,” says Dr. Antonucci.

Advances in technology, coupled with patient preference, adds up to an increase in outpatient surgeries.