Just because your procedure is over does not mean that you are ready to pack your bags and head back home. Your doctor will recommend several days of monitored rest in order to ensure an optimal recovery and the best possible outcome to your surgery or treatment. This process is often referred to as aftercare. In more technical terms it can be defined as “the process of maintaining the integrity and quality of a patient’s care as he or she transitions from one setting (or set of circumstances) to another.”
The actual aftercare process occurs in several different phases. It will also differ significantly from patient to patient depending on the nature of the treatment and the patient´s condition and needs. A patient who has undergone a hip replacement, for example, will require much more follow-up and assistance than a patient who is in Las Vegas for a dental treatment or an executive physical.
Where surgery is involved, phase one of the aftercare process begins the moment you leave the treatment center. If you are staying at an area hotel then you may need to return to the medical facility for rehabilitation therapy, removal of stitches, nutritional counseling or simply for general monitoring of your post-procedure progress. Phase two begins once you return home. Here it is important to schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor to ensure that your recovery is headed in the right direction.
Are You Allowing Enough Time for Your Recuperation Before Traveling Home?
The best advice is to talk to your doctor before traveling for any medical treatment in order to understand the potential risks involved, not only in traveling for healthcare, but also to assess any risks particular to your own personal health condition. Patients should consider a health evaluation before any planned healthcare trip.
Surgery is stressful enough regardless of your location. For an optimal recovery allow sufficient rest time before your departure home. This is particularly important if you are flying long distances where there is a risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism.
DVT may be defined as a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body. If the blood clot breaks off and travels through the blood stream to the lungs, a pulmonary embolism may occur which is potentially fatal. Although rare, there are effective measures that traveling patients can use to reduce the risk of DVT.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:
Getting up and walking around every 2 to 3 hours;
Exercise your legs while you’re sitting; and
Drink plenty of water, and avoid drinking anything with alcohol or caffeine in it.
Additionally, there are medical protocols that doctors will use to reduce a patient’s risk of DVT. These include prescribing medical compression stockings and anti-clotting medications such as Warfarin and Heparin for surgical patients.
The key factor to take into consideration is communication with your physician and understanding the protocol you are given.
Tips for an Optimal Aftercare Process
Make scheduled appointments before and after treatment with your local doctor. Also make sure your doctor knows that you are traveling and that he or she is aware of the details of your procedure or treatment.
Before traveling, find out if a companion is recommended for the aftercare process.
Find out about the type and extent of the aftercare provided by the hospital.
Contact the hotel you will be staying at to inform them about your procedure and your needs after surgery.
Don’t leave the hospital without your complete medical records and a doctor’s report that details the procedures performed and specifies recommendations for an optimal recovery process.
It is important for both patients and providers to be proactive with the aftercare process as it is an integral part of a successful procedure outcome and promotes a positive medical tourism experience.
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