Same-Day Discharge Becomes Option for Some Heart Patients

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Same-Day Discharge Becomes Option for Some Heart Patients

Empty wheelchair in hospital room; same-day discharge possible for some heart patients

It's a concept that seems almost too good to be true: going home after a minor heart procedure the same day, versus having to recover in the hospital. Yet, same-day discharge is something UnityPoint Health feels strongly about for certain cardiology operations. Todd Langager, MD, who leads this initiative at UnityPoint Health, says historically, this approach never would have happened, but it’s a trend picking up momentum across the United States.

“Patients with any type of coronary intervention, even low-risk procedures, used to always be kept in the hospital overnight,” Dr. Langager says. “But, through research and improvements in technology and medication, we can now safely discharge suitable candidates the same day, with no greater risk in complications or negative outcomes.”

The same-day discharge option is offered to patients who are low-risk for complications from:

  • Stent placement in one of the arteries of the heart.
  • An angiogram that doesn’t require a stent or any other additional treatment.

Dr. Langager says keeping patients in the hospital only as long as necessary helps from both a quality and cost standpoint.

“It’s actually safer to discharge them home because you completely eliminate the change of hospital stay risks, like infections. There’s also no greater risk of patients having to be readmitted from complication. Plus, patients save money by not having to undergo the cost of a hospital stay.”

Dr. Langager estimates the cost savings of same-day discharge is between $1,000-$2,500 per procedure. And, follow-up for patients is handled carefully by care teams.

“We reach out to patients not long after they go home to make sure they report any problems, as well as to check if they received, and are taking, their medication correctly. From there, we continue regular touch-points with them, even before their follow-up office visit with either their primary care provider or cardiologist,” Dr. Langager says.

Still think it’s too good to be true? Dr. Langager offers this reassurance.

“Your outcomes will be the same as if you spent the day in the hospital, but you’ll be sleeping in your own bed the same day as the procedure.”