Day Surgery:  Changing Your Healthcare Experience

Heather Orellana, Director of Surgery, Victoria Hospital

Back in 1909, Scottish surgeon James McNicoll proposed that, for certain patients, providing surgery without an inpatient stay could reduce infections, save money, and free up hospital beds.  Despite his vision, day surgery didn’t take off for decades.  Only in the last 30 years has the medical community maximized the potential of day surgery.  New technology allows us to treat patients with less invasive surgeries, making day surgery options even more available.

At Victoria Hospital, we embrace day surgery.  In fact, we are proud to have Manitoba’s largest day surgery program. Each year, we perform over 7,000 day surgery cases. We serve patients requiring urology, gynecology, oral health, cancer, ear, nose and throat, and plastic surgery.  We are also proud to be the home of Manitoba’s bariatric surgery program.

The definition of day surgery varies; for us, day surgery means a stay of less than 24 hours. Most folks go home within hours, but a few do stay overnight.  Our day surgery program also includes our pre-admission clinic and our endoscopy program.  Technically not “surgery”, during an endoscopy procedure the surgeon uses a flexible tube with a camera and light source to examine something inside the body.  Examples include colonoscopies and gastroscopies.  Commonly we do nearly 7,000 endoscopy cases a year.

Our patients are key partners in our day surgery program.  They are provided with strict pre-operative instructions.  Generally, these instructions include “NPO” orders.  NPO stands for “nil per os”, Latin for “nothing by mouth”.  Restricting food and liquids before surgery is a safety measure.  Under anesthesia, food or liquid in the belly can sometimes be regurgitated and enter the lungs; this is serious, even fatal. 

Pre-operative instructions may also require patients to change their medications before surgery.  Surgeons will evaluate the risks and benefits of taking blood thinners, and drugs that affect the heart and lungs.  For their own safety, it is critical that a patient let the surgical team know on the day of surgery if they were unable to follow the instructions.

One of our favourite compliments from a patient was that our Day Surgery team “functions like a well-oiled machine”, and we agree.  What our patients rarely see is that our team includes not just the wonderful surgical staff and physicians, but also Admitting, Housekeeping, Materials Management, Medical Device Reprocessing, and several other experts.  Together, with their commitment, skills, sense of humour, and compassion, they have created an amazing program.  Not only do we receive many compliments from our patients, but our surgeons regularly comment on our efficiency. 

If day surgery is in your future, rest assured you’ll be welcomed by our phenomenal team.  Pay close attention to your pre-op instructions, and let the team know if you have trouble following them.  Then enjoy the benefits of recovering in the comfort of your own home!

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