Ask Dr. Wills: Should I Choose A Surgery Center Or Hospital For My Surgery?

Advances in medicine have increased options for patients considering an elective surgical procedure. Summit surgeon Dr. Nick Wills explains how to weigh the choice between a surgery center and a hospital.

surgery center or hospital

Surgery center or hospital?

Twenty years ago, elective joint and spine procedures meant a hospital stay. Today, many patients choose a surgical center instead. Although surgical centers are not the right choice for every patient, Summit surgeon Dr. Nick Wills explains how surgery at Summit Orthopedics’ Vadnais Heights and Eagan locations can improve the treatment experience for appropriate patients. It can help you answer whether a surgery center or hospital is right for you.

New options for younger, healthier patients

“In the past, most total joint and spine patients were elderly,” Dr. Wills explains. “Frequently, these patients went into surgery with other conditions, like heart disease, that increased their surgical risks. Hospitals have the resources to manage complications if they arise, and are the appropriate and safest surgical setting to manage patients with higher surgical risk factors. Over time, however, we’ve seen an increase in younger healthy patients considering these surgeries. For healthy patients of any age, having a joint or spine procedure in one of our surgery centers instead of a hospital provides several benefits.”

Lower infection rates

Perhaps the most significant benefit of a surgical center is lower risk of infection. “Honestly, I think that’s the biggest medical advantage,” says Dr. Wills. “Hospitals are filled with sick people. No matter how carefully hospitals follow infection protocols, there are simply going to be more bad bugs and bacteria in a hospital environment. At our surgery centers, no one is sick. Our patients are injured, but otherwise healthy. As a result, we have extremely low infection rates at our surgery centers. When you have lower infection rates, you are going to get a better outcome. Our data show this: our patient outcomes scores are far superior to comparable hospital scores.”

Great value without sacrificing quality

Summit’s surgery centers also offer better value and more control over the quality of care. “Pain management is one example,” Dr. Wills points out. “At our surgery center, we have control over the protocols and algorithms we can use to minimize patient pain. IV Tylenol and a long-lasting numbing medication called Exparel aren’t used in hospitals because they are too expensive. Well, we use these medications in our surgery centers and we absorb the cost because we think it’s better for our patients.”

Enhanced patient experience

Finally, Summit surgery center environments are designed to provide a superior patient experience. “We survey our patients because we want to know what is going to make them feel more comfortable,” explains Dr. Wills. “They loved the luxury of the care suites at Vadnais Heights, and told us they wished the pre-op and overnight rooms felt more like the care suites. We said, ‘Well, that’s a good idea! We need to do that!’ Eagan gave us the opportunity to make some of these changes.

“A more luxurious pre-op room may be a little thing, but little things can make a big difference,” he says. “We design the entire surgical experience—from state-of-the-art surgical resources to pain management and an environment with beautiful rooms and compassionate treatment—to provide safe and superior care for excellent value in a beautiful environment so that our patients know they are in good hands.”

Spine treatment

Summit Orthopedics is home to Minneapolis/St. Paul’s top spine specialists for neck and back pain treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or pain, the spine team at Summit Orthopedics will work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan to address your problems. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained spine surgeons are here to consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options.

Start your journey to a healthy spine: Find your spine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at 651-968-5201 to schedule a spine consultation.

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