What is the difference between inpatient and outpatient?

Many patients are aware of the main difference between outpatient and inpatient care, namely, that inpatient requires an overnight stay. However, there are several other key differences to be aware of when comparing the two types of patient care. 

As a provider of outpatient orthopedic surgery in Cary, Orthopaedic Surgery Center of Panther Creek can also be referred to as an ‘ambulatory surgery center’. There are several differences between an ambulatory care center, which provides outpatient care, and hospitals which provide inpatient care. These differences are outlined below. 

Do Outpatient Facilities Provide Different Services?

Yes, there are differences in the two when in regards to services provided. Regarding orthopedics, more complex surgeries often require an inpatient stay. Patients often stay one night or more to remain under doctors' and nurses' supervision. 

However, surgeons can now complete most orthopedic procedures at an ambulatory facility. This also includes all presurgical requirements such as consultations, labs, and MRIs. 

Is There a Cost Advantage to Outpatient Care?

Yes, procedures at outpatient ambulatory surgery centers are often more affordable than those conducted at hospitals. One of the reasons for this is that outpatient stays are inherently shorter than inpatient stays, often leading to significant cost-savings.

Tip: It is always wise to know about insurance benefits and cost expectations when having surgery. By knowing what to expect out of pocket, you can have some peace of mind. It is not unusual to save thousands of dollars by electing outpatient surgery. 

Why Do Patients Prefer Outpatient Care?

Most patients prefer outpatient surgical options because the quality of care is the same, yet they can recover at home. Patients appreciate recovering in their bed at home versus the disruptive inpatient hospital environment. 

As long as patients follow discharge instructions, they recover well at home. Many appreciate receiving care from loved ones who can be attentive to their needs. No waiting for call lights to be answered, and the food at home is usually better! 

What About Observation Status?

Observation status is where you stay in the hospital under the care of staff overnight. It may be necessary to determine if hospitalization is required. Patients usually remain in observation status 24 hours before either being discharged or admitted as an inpatient. 

As such, observation status is considered the gray area between inpatient and outpatient care. It may be an option to reduce some costs when the physician is unsure if further hospitalization is necessary. Observation status helps guarantee the wellness and safety of some patients immediately after surgery. 

Further Information About Our Cary Orthopedic Surgery Center

Whether you require outpatient orthopedic care or have an upcoming surgery, the Orthopaedic Surgery Center of Panther Creek is available to address your needs. Our staff can answer questions so you can put your mind at ease. 

When you come to the Orthopaedic Surgery Center of Panther Creek, you are treated by a specialized orthopedic surgeon who is an expert in outpatient care.

Questions? Connect with our surgery center staff at 919-582-3050 for additional information. 


outpatient orthopedic surgery cary
6715 McCrimmon Parkway
Suite 205 A 
Cary, NC 27519
Monday – Friday: 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
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