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Ann Surg. 1999 Nov;230(5):721-7.

Return hospital visits and hospital readmissions after ambulatory surgery.

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Department of Anaesthesia, Toronto Western Hospital, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To determine the overall and complication-related readmission rates within 30 days after ambulatory surgery at a major ambulatory surgical center.


Currently in North America, 65% of the surgical procedures are carried out in ambulatory settings. The safety of ambulatory surgery is well documented, with low rates of adverse events during or immediately after surgery. The consequences of ambulatory surgery during an extended period, however, have not been studied extensively.


Preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative data were collected on 17,638 consecutive patients undergoing ambulatory surgery at a major ambulatory surgical center in Toronto, Ontario. With the use of the database of the Ontario Ministry of Health, the authors identified all return hospital visits and hospital readmissions occurring in Ontario within 30 days after the ambulatory surgery. Return visits were categorized as emergency room visits, ambulatory surgical unit admissions, or inpatient admissions. The readmissions were categorized as those resulting from surgical, medical, or anesthesia-related complications or those not related to the ambulatory surgery.


One hundred ninety-three readmissions occurred within 30 days after ambulatory surgery (readmission rate 1.1%). Six patients returned to the emergency room, 178 patients were readmitted to the ambulatory surgical unit, and 9 patients were readmitted as inpatients. Twenty-five readmissions were the result of surgical complications, and one resulted from a medical complication (pulmonary embolism). The complication-related readmission rate was 0.15% (1 in 678 procedures). The complication rate was significantly higher among patients undergoing transurethral resection of bladder tumor (5.7%). No anesthesia-related readmissions or deaths were identified.


The rate of complication-related readmissions was extremely low (0.15%). This result further supports the view that ambulatory surgery is a safe practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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