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Discharge Planning After Surgery

Once you meet the discharge criteria specified for your type of surgery, you will be released to go home. Or you may be moved from the recovery room to a hospital room. Healthcare facilities usually require that you have a responsible friend or family member drive you home. This is because the anesthesia may affect your coordination and reflexes for up to 24 hours after the surgery. Your discharge plan should include instructions on how to take care of your wound and dressings. It may also include information about medicines. For example, what medicines you should take for pain and when to resume your other medicines. The plan may tell you what exercises to do and provide other home care instructions, such as whether you need to limit your activities.

Before you go home, you should be clear on what your limits are and whether you will need special care, help, or equipment after your surgery. Also be sure to discuss the following with your healthcare provider:

  • Do I have any dietary restrictions or can I eat what I want?

  • How soon before I can drive again and do other routine activities such as housework or lawn care?

  • Who will help me once I get home until I can go back to my normal activities?

  • How should I care for my incision? When can I shower and bathe again?

  • How long should I expect pain? What medicine should I take to control it?

  • Do I have stitches? And if so, when do they need to be taken out?

  • What are the signs of infection that I should watch for?

  • Is there any kind of follow-up treatment for this surgery?

  • When should I follow up with my healthcare provider?

  • In what cases should I contact my healthcare provider or nurse or seek medical care right away?

  • Do I need special care or home care, such as for my wound or IV medicines? Who can help me set it up? Will my health insurance pay for it?

  • When can I go back to exercising, lifting, and doing other more vigorous activities?

  • How soon before I can return to work? Will I need to be on limited duty or can I return without restrictions?