A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Considering ambulatory surgery? Answers to most-asked questions

Ambulatory Surgery 3-17 inside

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

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

Why does ambulatory 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 ASC 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 ambulatory surgery is the surgery itself, added Heidi Reigel, R.N., administrative director for Marshfield Clinic Health System surgical services.

What are additional benefits of ambulatory surgery?

No overnight stay

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

“Besides cost, a big difference between an ASC and a hospital is that patients usually go home after ambulatory surgery,” Reigel said.

At Marshfield Clinic ASCs, 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,” Reigel said.

Minimal recovery time

“An ambulatory surgery 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 ambulatory surgery centers.

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

Marshfield Clinic ASCs 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 ASC?

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 ASC, the federal government (CMS) may not.

Where can I have ambulatory surgery?

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

Marshfield Clinic ASCs:

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