Get access

Contemporary day surgery: patients’ experience of discharge and recovery


Jo Gilmartin
School of Healthcare Studies
Baines Wing
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9UT
Telephone: 0113 2331254


Aim.  To explore and reveal patients’ perceptions of discharge arrangements and recovery following day surgery.

Introduction.  Contemporary day surgery is increasingly being used to carry out elective surgical procedures enabling patients to be discharged on the same day. The Department of Health and government modernization programmes in the UK have encouraged this rapid growth. Preparation for discharge is important because patients require knowledge and understanding about self-management and access to primary health care services if required.

Methods.  Using a phenomenological approach, data were collected by unstructured interviews from 30 patients undergoing gynaecology, urology and general surgery procedures.

Results.  Deficits in patient preparation for discharge including the timing of information giving postprocedure for all groups were highlighted. The gynaecology patients pointed to a specific lack of verbal information about resuming sexual activity following procedures. Some general surgery and urology patients alluded to finding it stressful coping with threats to body image through ‘skin discoloration’, ‘swelling’ or ‘bruising’, because they did not know what to do. A number of urology patients talked about the challenges posed by difficulty with voiding, dysuria and haematuria.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The results and problems identified have applicability for the development of discharge planning services and patient education in a day surgery context. It is suggested that the use of evidenced-based and innovative interventions among health professionals might improve patient outcomes.