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Skip Navigation LinksPennsylvania Department of Health > Healthcare Facilities > Laws and Regulations > Outpatient Facilities > Tips For Outpatient Surgery

Tips For Outpatient Surgery
The number and types of medical procedures and surgeries performed in outpatient facilities -- facilities that are outside of a traditional hospital setting -- is on the rise.  Advances in medical technology allow physicians to provide high-quality care in an outpatient setting and, in some situations, consumers prefer the convenience of outpatient facilities.  Many procedures once performed in a hospital, requiring several days of hospitalization, are now performed in an outpatient setting.  And an individual undergoing an outpatient procedure can often be released within several hours.
Although more procedures can now be performed in an outpatient setting, it is still important to thoroughly discuss health issues with your physician prior to any procedure or surgery.
The Department of Health offers the following tips to patients considering outpatient surgery:
  • Provide your physician with your complete medical and surgical history; include all previous surgeries and anesthesia services, including dental procedures; 
  • Provide your physician with a list of all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements;
  • Tell your physician if you use tobacco, alcohol or other substances; this information is important because such substances can affect recovery from anesthesia and surgery;   
  • Inform your physician if you have had any allergic reactions, particularly if related to anesthesia; also include information about family members who may have had allergic reactions or other complications related to surgery or anesthesia;
  • Make sure you understand who will perform the surgical procedure and who will be providing the anesthesia services; it is not unreasonable to ask providers about their experience in providing these services or the experience of the staff at the facility; this is particularly important when services are being provided to children;
  • Ambulatory surgical facilities (ASF) performing certain procedures must have a license issued by the Department of Health; it is not unreasonable to ask if the particular procedure you are having done must be performed in a licensed ASF and whether the facility has such a license;
  • Make sure you understand the manner in which your physician, other health care providers and the facility are prepared to handle emergencies or complications that may occur; it is wise to ask if individuals at the facility are certified in Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Advanced Cardiac Life Supports (ACLS) and, in the case of children, Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS); also, it is reasonable to ask about what plans are in place in the event that emergency transportation to a local hospital is required;
  • Make sure you understand who will provide your post-operative care and what you can expect during your recovery at the facility; ask how long you should expect to stay and have a plan for how you will get home; 
  • Make sure you understand who will be responsible for your care once you are discharged from the facility; make sure you understand all of the instructions that are provided prior to your discharge from the facility; if possible, have a family member or a friend accompany you to help you better understand the instructions that are provided;
  • Make sure you know who you should contact if you have questions or experience any problems once discharged.