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Glossary Terms

What is an Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC)?

Glossary

An Ambulatory Surgical Center is a facility where people can have surgery that does not require them to stay overnight in the hospital. This type of surgery is also sometimes called outpatient or same-day surgery.

Ambulatory Surgical Centers typically have a staff of surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses who are all specially trained in outpatient surgery. The center will also have its own recovery area where patients can rest and be monitored after their procedure.

ASCs are state-licensed, and Medicare certified. This means that they must meet or exceed the safety standards set by the state and federal governments.

Why are ASCs Used?

There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend that you have surgery at an ASC. One reason is that having surgery at an ASC can be less expensive than being in a hospital. ASCs are able to cut costs because they are typically smaller and have fewer overhead costs. Another reason is that ASCs often have shorter surgery wait times than hospitals. ASCs often feel like a more relaxed and comfortable environment for patients and families.

Who Can Use an Ambulatory Surgical Center?

Most people who need surgery that can be performed on an outpatient basis can have their surgery at an ASC. However, Ambulatory Surgical Centers do not provide emergency services. They would call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room if a patient had a medical emergency. Also patients who require complex inpatient services would not typically use an ASC.

What Surgeries Can Be Performed at Ambulatory Surgical Centers?

ASCs can perform a wide variety of surgeries. Some of the most common types of surgery that are done at ASCs include:

  • orthopedic procedures
  • vascular procedures
  • interventional radiology procedures
  • ear, nose, and throat procedures (ENT)
  • urology and proctology procedures
  • ophthalmology procedures (eye)

How Do Surgeries Work at Ambulatory Surgical Centers?

Surgeries at Ambulatory Surgical Centers will work similarly to hospital surgeries. However, no office visits or consults are performed at an ASC. Ambulatory Surgical Centers operate in the following way:

What Happens Before Surgery at an Ambulatory Surgical Center?

Before having surgery at an ASC, you will likely meet with your surgeon to discuss the procedure and your medical history. You will also have a pre-operative appointment, during which you will have tests or procedures done to prepare for surgery.

What Happens During Surgery at an Ambulatory Surgical Center?

Most ASCs offer various surgical services, including general surgery, orthopedic surgery, ophthalmology, pain management, and more. The type of surgery you have will determine how long you stay at the ASC.

What Happens After Surgery at an ASC?

After your surgery, you will be taken to the ASC’s recovery area. The surgical staff will closely monitor you as you wake up from the anesthesia. Once you are awake and stable, you can go home with a friend or family member. You will likely need someone to drive you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours after your surgery.

Following your surgeon’s instructions after surgery is essential, including taking care of your incision site, getting plenty of rest, and avoiding strenuous activity.

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