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

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

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

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 recent 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, compared clinical outcomes for patients who underwent knee replacement surgery. The research was carried out over three years and measured outcomes at 10, 26 and 52 weeks after surgery.

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

You will feel just as well at home

The results from the study showed that those who received home-based care afterwards did as well as those given rehab in hospital, something that nib customer, Vince can attest to.

After recovering at home with nib’s Discharge Support Program (DSS), Vince Montgomery found that the ongoing assistance at home had many benefits.

“The team does absolutely brilliant work. They fought hard to get results and were able to obtain the treatment I needed to achieve outstanding final outcome.”

A similar study conducted in the United States reached the same conclusion. Researchers at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) analysed data for more than 2,400 patients who received knee replacement therapy between 2007 and 2011. The researchers found there was no difference in complications after surgery for those treated as inpatients over those treated at home.

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 50,000 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 customers 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, including a Discharge Support Program. This program allows nib customers 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, call us on 1800 339 219 or email [email protected]

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