Going Home

PREPARING YOU FOR GOING HOME

The general information which follows is designed to assist your recovery and to supplement any specific instructions you might receive from your surgeon. Please discuss these instructions, and any from your surgeon, with your nurse before you leave hospital.  Click here to view/print our handy checklist.

Your recovery

Before you are discharged, your surgeon and your nurse will talk to you about what to expect over the coming days and weeks as you recover. Arrangements will also be made for any aids, such as crutches.

Medications

Before you leave the hospital, your surgeon will give you a prescription for any additional medications you are required to take. Your nurse or surgeon will explain these medications to you and will give you a 'Medications After Surgery' guide to take home with you. You may also need to see our pharmacist to discuss instructions for your medications.

Your nurse will arrange for your prescription to be collected from the Pharmacy, if required. Please make sure you have your Prescription Subsidy Card, if appropriate. Let the nurse or your surgeon know if you already have these medications at home and don't need any additional supply

Depending on the payment agreement with your insurer you may need to pay for your medication on discharge.

 Your regular medications

On discharge, your nurse will return your regular medications to you. Please make sure you don't leave without them.

Diet

Your diet can enhance your wellness in many different ways. For this reason, and depending on your operation/procedure, you may need to see a dietitian after your surgery to discuss dietary options that will help you recover.

Fitness for work

When you can return to work depends on the type of work that you do and the type of surgery you've had. Ask your surgeon before you leave hospital about when you might be fit for work.  You will be given a medical certificate if needed.  

Discharge summary

When you leave hospital you will be given a discharge summary. This includes information about your presenting problem, your operation/procedure and any follow-up required. Your family doctor also receives a copy of the summary.  If you need to visit your family doctor or an after-hours doctor, please remember to take this discharge summary with you. 

Discharge time

The recommended discharge time is 10.00am.  Discharge after this time may incur additional charges.  if you have trouble organising for your discharge, please discuss this with your nurse.  

At home

If you have had a general anaesthetic, we strongly advise that someone stays with you overnight. If this isn't possible please let your surgeon or our Customer Support team know prior to admission.  

Travel home

To ensure your safety, there is strictly no driving within 24 hours of having a general anaesthetic. Therefore you probably won't be permitted to drive after your surgery. Please make sure you have arranged a way to travel home safely.

 Discharge checklist

Before you leave hospital, it's important that you understand and/or have with you the following items:

  • Discharge summary from your surgeon
  • Instructions for going home from your surgeon
  • Any medications or prescriptions to have filled
  • Your own medications that you brought with you to hospital
  • Personal belongings eg. your mobile phone charger, your own pillows and any other items you brought with you, such as letters or reports, X-rays, or your Prescription Subsidy Card
  • Any supplies or aids needed for your care at home

When you're ready, let your nurse or the charge nurse know that you are ready to leave.

AFTER YOU GET HOME

Depending on the operation/procedure you had, you may experience certain sensations that include pain, nausea, sore throat, muscle pain, or a reduced ability to concentrate. These are often to be expected, and usually nothing to worry about.

However, if you experience any serious problems, or you become severely unwell following discharge, for example feverish, increasing pain or bleeding:

  • Call 111 and take an ambulance to the closest public hospital

OR if the problem seems less serious:

  • Call your surgeon (refer to the discharge summary for their phone number).  If he or she isn't available, please contact your family doctor or visit your local Accident & Medical Clinic.

 Follow-up check 

You may be advised to go to your family doctor for a follow-up check one week after discharge, or to visit your surgeon's clinic.  Your surgeon will let you know how to make this appointment. This allows your surgeon to check your progress, provide you with any test results and give you the chance to ask any remaining questions.

Pain management

With regular pain relief you should be able to rest comfortably and carry out activities like walking, showering and physiotherapy exercises. If you find that the medications prescribed by your surgeon aren't enough to manage your pain, please contact your family doctor or surgeon.

Rest

Feeling tired, uncomfortable and vulnerable when you first go home after surgery is very normal. Plan to have some rest time in your bed, and let family and friends know not to disturb you for the first day or so - unless they're helping with meals and other activities. 

Looking after your operation site (wound)

All wounds go through several stages of healing, and you will be able to see these changes. It is normal to feel:

  • Tingling, numbness and itching sensations
  • A firm lump under the scar as new tissue forms (this can take six months or longer to resolve)
  • Slight pulling around the stitches or clips as the wound heals

We recommend that you shower rather than bath, unless your surgeon or nurse advise otherwise. 

If your wound becomes painful, red or swollen, starts to ooze pus/blood or clear fluid, or you get a fever consult your family doctor or surgeon straight away in case you have developed a wound infection.

If you have clips, staples or non-dissolving stitches in your wound when you go home, these usually need to be removed by your surgeon/family doctor or as an outpatient 10-14 days after your operation. Dissolvable stitches are used under the skin and these can take some months to dissolve completely.

Your bowels

Changes in diet, activity and medications can lead to irregular bowel habits, but this usually goes back to normal with time. A well-balanced diet, including plenty of fluid and exercise is beneficial.

Activity

If you have been given specific instructions about activity from your surgeon or physiotherapist please follow these closely to help your recovery.  Otherwise, simply increase the amount of exercise you do gradually.  For example you might decide to take a short walk two or three times a day and slowly increase the distance over a few weeks.

Many people find it easier to use a dining room chair to sit in rather than getting up from a low chair, espcially if you have had abdominal or back surgery. 

If a certain movement hurts, avoid it where possible until you get your strength back. Movements that cause discomfort can include bending and stretching, lifting heavy weights (including children), pulling and pushing (like vacuuming or lawn mowing).

Sexual relations

If you have been given specific instructions about sexual relations from your surgeon, please follow these, otherwise there is no set rule about the time at which you can resume your usual sexual relations. If you experience pain or discomfort during sexual activity we recommend that you wait a little longer. This is natural and will improve as you get stronger and fitter.

Driving

The time you can safely start driving depends largely on the type of operation/procedure you've had. The main concern is your ability to make an emergency stop. If your wound is not causing you any pain, then you're probably ready to drive.

You should NOT drive if you are taking strong pain relief that makes you drowsy or slows reaction times.

Please check with your car insurance company about your vehicle coverage following surgery. 

Going back to work

It's important to feel well before you return to work or you could be affected by tiredness and reduced concentration. Talk to your surgeon or family doctor if your recovery is taking longer than your surgeon thought it would and/or the medical certificate you were given does not seem to be for long enough.

Support contact numbers 

It's important that you feel informed and safe at all times. If you have any questions when you return home from hospital, please refer to your surgeon first. Their contact details can be found on your discharge summary.  If you are unable to contact your surgeon in the first instance please contact your family doctor or your local Accident and Medical Clinic. 

For extra support:

  • During the day you are more than welcome to call our Ascot Hospital main line 09 520 9500 or Mercy Hospital main line 09 6235700 and ask for the ward and talk to the charge nurse.
  • After hours you may contact the duty manager Ascot Hospital, on 027 441 0919 or Mercy Hospital on 027 488 1677.

 

 

 

 

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