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Home vs hospital: Where should you recover post-surgery?

You've just had surgery where's the best place to recover?

A young man with a broken leg watches his tablet screen as he rests on the couch
A young man with a broken leg watches his tablet screen as he rests on the couch

You’ve just had surgery and been told by your doctor that you need to rest-up for the next few days. Where would you rather recover – in a hospital or in your own home?

A 2019 Australian study suggests that patients who go home after knee reconstruction surgery do just as well as those who stay in hospital. And, with at home recovery meaning you have access to your own fridge, bathroom and wifi (#priorities), if you have the option to recover at home, it's well worth considering.

Getting better from the comfort of your own bed? It's how your recovery should be.

The study, led by Justine Naylor from The Ingham Institute at Liverpool in south-western Sydney, reviewed five independent studies – which involved over 750 participants – to compare home-based rehab with inpatient programs.

The study suggests that patients who go home after knee reconstruction surgery do just as well as those who stay in hospital

A close-up of a broken leg in a cast with a crutch laying down on the grass

Recovering at home costs less

The Ingham Institute study also revealed that recovering at home is more cost-effective. In-hospital therapy costs more than 20 times as much as the care received at home.

Take the pressure off premiums

More than 60,000 knee replacements are performed annually in Australia, making it one of the top 10 elective surgeries in the country.

Given this volume, and the cost – about $700 a day – Associate Professor Naylor said that the number of patients having rehab in hospital wasn't sustainable.

Patients with private health insurance are more likely to be targeted for in-hospital rehab, which could put increasing pressure on premiums.

Make an informed choice

Mark Fitzgibbon, nib Chief Executive Officer, said the study’s findings demonstrated the need for increased transparency around cost and medical efficacy to help consumers make more informed choices about their health care.

Mr Fitzgibbon said that the health fund didn't believe in members being treated in hospital where there was no evidence of a clinical benefit of hospitalisation over home-based or community-based care.

At nib, we also offer a range of Health Management Programs at no cost to eligible members with Hospital Cover. This allows nib members access to a personalised recovery program after they return from hospital. If you would like to find out whether you’re eligible, or you’d like more information, go to our Health Care at Home page.

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