What is Ambulatory Surgery?

Patients considering elective surgery often have questions about why they should choose an Ambulatory Surgery Center over a hospital for outpatient surgery. Many aren't sure exactly what "ambulatory surgery" means and how it differs. Being able to explain the similarities and differences clearly can be a great selling point for your ASC and put patients at ease.


Defining Ambulatory Surgery

The basic definition of ambulatory surgery is any surgical procedure performed that allows the patient to leave the facility the same day. It is also sometimes called minimally invasive, same-day, or outpatient surgery. Ambulatory surgery is usually performed at an outpatient clinic or surgery center. Other procedures such as colonoscopies are also considered ambulatory, although they are not strictly surgical. Outpatient surgery at an ASC differs from hospital surgery in several ways.

Many ambulatory surgeries are minor procedures without long recovery times. When patients have woken up after surgery and are alert, they can go home. ASC staff members check the patient to make sure there aren’t any complications. If the patient can go to the bathroom, they are released to recuperate at home. Many of these procedures require a small incision.


Where Can Ambulatory Surgery Be Performed?

Outpatient surgeries are done at either an ASC or a hospital. The ASC is an independent facility focused on performing specific procedures that don't require an overnight stay. If there is a complication following an operation at an ASC, the patient is transferred to a hospital.


What are the Advantages of an ASC?

Ambulatory Surgery Centers are convenient and less expensive than hospitals for many procedures. The environment is less stressful and more comfortable, with attentive staff to care for the patients' needs. The operating suites are identical to those found in hospitals or, in some cases, more state-of-the-art because ASCs tend to focus on specialized types of procedures. Having skilled nursing care on staff ensures the highest level of care without being admitted to the hospital.

Scheduling a procedure at an ASC is easier and quicker than at a hospital. The competition and the waiting list for operating rooms can delay procedures for weeks or months. Hospital budgets can also impact the quality of equipment at hospitals that have to determine where else the money might be needed. At an ASC whose only focus is surgery, the best equipment is always a priority. Surgeons can also put together their own teams of specialized nurses, anesthetists, and other medical staff to complement their specialties and provide the highest quality of care.


ASC Staffing Offers Personalized Care

The care provided at an Ambulatory Surgery Center is very patient-centric, focusing on ensuring the entire surgical experience is smooth, safe, and as comfortable and low-stress as possible. Staffing at ASCs includes the front desk personnel, nurses, anesthesiologists, surgical technicians, clinical staff, and surgeons. This team of health care professionals works closely with patients throughout their procedure and follow up with patients after they return home to ensure a healthy recovery and answer any questions. Each member of the care team will be familiar with the condition of the patients in their care and able to educate them on self-care at home following their surgery. Because the team follows patients from check-in through discharge and beyond, the continuity of care is much better than in a hospital. There is less likelihood of infection and more personalized attention, minimizing missed protocols and maximizing patient engagement.


Patient Satisfaction

There are many ways that ambulatory surgery centers differ from hospitals, but the most important one is customer satisfaction. Patients who have had surgery or other procedures at an ASC overwhelmingly prefer the treatment, personal care, and reduced cost of an ASC over the chaos and impersonal care received in a hospital setting.

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