When you think “heart procedure,” you might think “long hospital stay.” But at Saint Francis Medical Center, some patients are able to go home the same day they undergo an angioplasty procedure.
Doctors diagnose some heart problems by inserting a catheter into a patient’s groin or wrist and inflating a balloon at the tip of the catheter. The balloon compresses the plaque in the coronary artery and widens the artery so blood can flow more easily. This is called angioplasty. In some angioplasty procedures, the doctor then inserts a small, mesh stent that will permanently widen the artery.
“With the advent of safer and more predictable procedures, we have started to let a few patients go home without staying overnight,” says William K. LaFoe, MD, FACC, FSCAI, interventional cardiologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “If we perform this procedure early in the morning, a patient who experiences no complications will have four to six hours to recover afterward and will be discharged that evening.”
“Most patients, I think,” continues LaFoe, “would rather sleep in their own bed after a procedure, so it’s very popular to be allowed to go home.”
The American College of Cardiology recently reviewed 13 different studies examining outcomes of overnight versus same-day discharges. It saw no difference between the two groups, so it now supports same-day discharge for select patients.
If a patient prefers to remain in the hospital for a night, the doctor does allow that. However, same-day discharge saves patients a significant amount of money. “We save about $1,000 in healthcare costs, and a bed is available for someone who is sicker,” says LaFoe.
Even in cases where the doctor must place a stent and the patient must stay overnight in the hospital, procedures are becoming safer. “Our complication rates are very low, so it becomes much safer to leave quicker,” says LaFoe. “I would expect over time that more patients who have had coronary stenting procedures would go home on the same day.”
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