A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Considering outpatient surgery? Answers to most-asked questions

Ambulatory Surgery 3-17 inside

Unlike hospitals, outpatient surgery centers usually send patients home after a procedure.

Ambulatory or outpatient surgery centers save the Medicare system $2.3 billion yearly, according to Association of Wisconsin Surgery Centers, Inc.

Why does outpatient surgery cost less?

“Surgery centers have less fees or overhead, because we don’t have to function like a hospital,” said Dr. Gregory Tyler, Marshfield Clinic outpatient surgery center system and medical director. “We’re not running a facility 24/7 and don’t have costs linked to emergency departments or intensive care units (ICUs).”

The greatest cost linked to outpatient surgery is the surgery itself, added Amber Behnke, director of surgical services for Marshfield Clinic Health System.

What are additional benefits of outpatient surgery?

No overnight stay

You might hear people call outpatient surgery “ambulatory surgery,” “same-day surgery” or “day surgery.”

“Besides cost, a big difference between an outpatient surgery center and a hospital is that patients usually go home after outpatient surgery,” Behnke said.

At Marshfield Clinic outpatient surgery centers, four to six patients stay overnight per day. This adds up to about 1,800 patients overnight per year.

“Overnight stays are a small portion of the approximately 30,000 surgeries we perform yearly,” Behnke said.

Minimal recovery time

“Our center’s primary goal is to perform safe, high-quality care in an outpatient setting that allows patients to return to daily activity sooner,” Tyler said.

Marshfield Clinic outpatient surgery centers focus on a strategy called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS). ERAS aims to enhance recovery by minimizing pain after a procedure. The result is a shortened stay.

Safe alternative surgery option

Today, many surgeries once done in hospitals can be done in outpatient surgery centers.

“Total joint replacement, hysterectomies and prostate surgeries are all examples of procedures historically done in hospitals and now available as outpatient surgeries,” Tyler said.

Marshfield Clinic outpatient surgery centers provide surgical services for:

  • Ear, nose and throat
  • Gastroenterology
  • General surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Oral surgery
  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Urology

Who decides which surgeries can be performed in an outpatient surgery center?

Surgeries offered at surgery centers depend on which procedures Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approve.

While some private insurance companies might allow a procedure to be done at an outpatient surgery center, the federal government (CMS) may not.

Where can I have outpatient surgery?

“Marshfield Clinic has four outpatient locations in Wisconsin, and all but our Minocqua, Wis., location have extended recovery units – where patients can stay overnight if needed,” Behnke said.

Marshfield Clinic outpatient locations:

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