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Outpatient Is Now 'In'

May 31, 1999

How the operating tables have turned. In 1985, inpatient surgeries outnumbered outpatient surgeries by almost two to one. By 1993, more outpatient than inpatient surgeries were being performed for two main reasons: Advances in surgical and anesthesia procedures cut recovery time, and changes in insurance plans mandated the less-costly outpatient approach.

In 1996, some 31.5 million ambulatory, or outpatient, surgeries were performed. Outpatient surgeries are procedures in which patients spend fewer than 24 hours in the hospital or in the facility where they were treated. Local, spinal and sometimes general anesthesia are usually used.

In 1996, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the following number of ambulatory procedures were performed on the:

* Nervous system: 1.24 million.

* Eyes: 5.3 million

* Ears: 841,000

* Nose, mouth and pharynx: 2 million

* Respiratory system: 429,000

* Cardiovascular system: 898,000

* Digestive system: 6.2 million

* Urinary system: 1.4 million

* Musculoskeletal system: 4.2 million

Source: National Center for Health Statistics and Johns Hopkins Family Health Book

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