While we know the outcomes of a successful elective surgery are positive—greater mobility, less pain, ease in everyday tasks—it’s no secret there are some perceived hassles that come with having a procedure and the recovery that follows, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The good news is you have the power to make choices that alleviate some of the stress in planning, the procedure, and the recovery. Here are five things to consider when deciding when and where to have your surgery.
1. Discuss with your doctor.
The place and timing of your surgery are really up to you and your physician, and your pain level is certainly a big factor. You shouldn’t live your life in pain. But there are some other important factors to consider: the setting, the pandemic, the cost, and the impact on your personal life.
Have a clear discussion with your doctor about your pain management. What are you doing to currently manage the pain, and how soon do you need to have the procedure? Are you fit for surgery? Some of the patients who recover the quickest are those that are prepared for the surgery. Your doctor will help you make a personalized plan that will help you get back to a pain-free life.
2. Hospital or outpatient center?
When deciding the right time for your elective surgery, the setting plays a huge role. You have a choice between a hospital or an outpatient surgery center.
Outpatient surgery centers like Mississippi Valley Surgery Center (MVSC) located in Davenport, have benefits over hospitals.
- Convenience: Outpatient centers are typically more convenient and easier to access than hospitals. The staff is strictly focused on surgical patients which creates a more personalized and convenient experience for patients and family members alike.
- Predictable scheduling: Outpatient surgery centers have better control of scheduling and as a result have very few procedures delayed or rescheduled compared to hospitals.
- Time: At surgery centers like MVSC, same-day surgeries allow patients to be discharged on the same day to recover in the comfort of their own home. A study by the University of Louisville found patients spent 26 percent less time in an outpatient surgery center than a hospital for the same surgery.
3. Keep safety first.
You may ask yourself, is it safe to schedule my surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic? The answer is yes, especially in an outpatient surgery center.
A survey of more than 700 outpatient surgery centers conducted by ASC Quality Collaboration found that there is very minimal risk of contracting COVID-19 either during or following a procedure.
The impressively low positivity rates in outpatient centers are due to stringent safety guidelines that are in place. MVSC has required all unvaccinated surgery patients to be tested off-site before their procedure since the beginning of the pandemic. Additionally, operating room air is exchanged 20+ times an hour, which is above the national standard to keep it fresh and clean. MVSC also uses UV disinfecting machines for small electronics and items staff carry every day like cell phones, keys, badges, etc.
MVSC has not had any confirmed patients or employees contract COVID-19 within the facilities.
Even prior to the pandemic, surgery centers had a historically lower surgical site infection rate than hospitals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in 2010, approximately 8.95 in 1,000 patients developed a surgical site infection (SSI) in a hospital setting as compared to only 4.84 in 1,000 at an outpatient surgery center.
4. Consider the cost.
Your insurance matters, and that could affect the timing of your surgery. You should explore what your insurance covers and what your deductible is. If you’ve met your deductible and have plans for more medical care throughout the year, you could spread out the care, so that your out-of-pocket expenses are not astronomical. A simple call to your insurance provider can help you sort out these details.
If you’re a Medicare patient, there are additional factors to consider. Each year, Medicare undergoes updates that can impact beneficiaries. In 2018, Medicare Part B approved payment for outpatient knee replacement procedures. This was a great advancement for patient options as Part B may now cover 80 percent of all allowable charges after patients meet the Part B deductible.
As of 2021, this also became true for outpatient hip replacements. Medicare Part B will now help cover the costs of care including doctor’s fees, surgery, and medical equipment such as a cane, walker, etc.
5. Make some personal decisions.
Ultimately, you have to make choices that are right for your personal situation. When will be the best time for you to take some time off work and recover at home? Consider your schedule, but also think about the big events in your life. Is there a family reunion or a wedding that you want to be in peak shape for?
Communicate with your physician about what is important to you and listen when they estimate your recovery time. That way you can plan your elective procedure to have a smaller impact on your normal routine.
When it comes to your elective surgery, you want to ensure the timing is right for you.