[Skip to Navigation]
February 1974

Ambulatory Surgical Unit: Alternative to Hospitalization

Author Affiliations

From the departments of surgery (Dr. Saltzstein), administration (Messrs. Sullivan and Hiller), and nursing service (Ms. Patterson), Mount Sinai Medical Center, and the Department of Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin (Dr. Saltzstein), Milwaukee.

Arch Surg. 1974;108(2):143-146. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1974.01350260007002

Hospitalization costs are the prime reason for increasing health care delivery costs. The initial 15-month experience (633 patients) with an ambulatory surgical unit in an urban teaching hospital was evaluated as an alternative to hospitalization.

A progressive increase in utilization of the unit was not accompanied by a decrease in hospital admissions. Gynecological, urological, and orthopedic procedures lend themselves to performance on outpatients. A wide variety of surgical procedures were performed.

Analysis of hospital billing to patients undergoing therapeutic abortion, laparoscopic tubal ligation, breast biopsy, and cystoscopy indicated that charges range from 47% to 70% higher for inpatients than for outpatients undergoing similar procedures. Screening tests and room charges to inpatients accounted for this significant cost differential.

Patients preferred ambulatory surgery to hospitalization. Patients and physicians indicated a highly satisfactory experience in all aspects of high quality medical care.