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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. Hospitals 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 may include instructions on how to take care of the wound dressings. It may also include what medicines to take and what exercises to do, as well as other home care instructions.

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 doctor:

  • Do I have any special limits on what I can eat?

  • 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?

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

  • When should I follow up with my doctor?

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

  • When can I go back to exercising, lifting, and 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?

Online Medical Reviewer: Jonas DeMuro MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Wanda Taylor RN PhD
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2019
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