After surgery, your home is the safest place to recover

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Post-surgery care: Planning for better recovery

man in wheelchair leaving hospital

A growing concern for patients undergoing surgery is planning for post-surgery care. The fear or readmission is real and a post-surgery plan can help alleviate and prevent that concern. 

A study in the February 3rd issue of JAMA published readmission information from nearly 350 hospitals that showed an association of readmissions in the first 30 days after surgery with post-discharge complications related to the surgical procedure. 

While the quality of post-surgery care has been known to be a factor in hospital readmission for patients, the current coronavirus pandemic has hospital staff and surgical patients considering post-surgery care options and how to limit the risk of ending up back in the hospital. 

People typically rely on family members for support after being discharged from the hospital after surgery. Due to COVID-19, surgical patients fear the risk of exposing family members or may have family members who work in the general public and cannot provide the support needed through recovery. Many post-op patients would opt for the support of rehab facilities, but that option is being bypassed as it could pose more of a threat than support. 

General post-op risks

When post-op patients do not have the support that they need, the risk of returning to the hospital is increased. More than 40 percent of all patients who experience complications after surgery experience them at home and half of those complications occur within nine days of patients leaving the hospital. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that patients should stay in the hospital longer after a surgical procedure, but rather a high level of care that patients receive post-op should be encouraged. Without proper support, patients may run into challenges:

  • They may not have access to transportation to follow-up appointments with their doctors.
  • They may have challenges with medication (taking the right medication at the right time, missing doses, taking the wrong doses, picking prescriptions up from the pharmacy, etc.)
  • They may not understand discharge information and how to properly care for incisions.
  • They may not take the right measures to prevent infections and other complications. (The most common complication patients experience after leaving the hospital is a localized infection at the site of the incision.) 

Alternative options

Since COVID-19 has created a vulnerable society that is limited in how people interact with each other, traditional post-surgery support options may be more risky than effective. Alternative options, like in-home care, are growing in value because of the safe and reliable support they provide to patients returning home after surgery. 

In-home aides can support patients by helping them follow discharge instructions, assisting with errands and transportation, preparing meals, and monitoring medication. In-home care is not limited to these services and can be catered to the unique needs of each individual, making this an invaluable form of support during recovery and helping people stay out of the hospital and recover better after a hospital stay. 

The goals of home care services are to help people recover better. Post-surgery patients do not need the added worry of how to care for themselves well with scarce resources. Home care can be the absolute best option to help patients recover and find their independence faster.

Helen Bach
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