- Cancer Information
- Cancer treatment
- Recovery after surgery
- Leaving hospital (discharge)
Leaving hospital (discharge)
Below we cover the process of leaving the hospital, also known as being discharged.
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If you have day surgery, you will be discharged from hospital sometime after you leave the recovery room. It’s important to arrange ahead of time for someone to take you home after surgery. The nurses will contact this person to tell them when you’ll be ready to leave. If you live alone, you will need to organise another adult to stay with you the first night you are home, or arrange to stay with family or friends.
If you have surgery as an inpatient, you will be discharged when the medical team thinks you are healthy enough to leave. Some people stay in hospital for a day or two, but others stay for longer – in some cases several weeks or, rarely, months.
Along with discharge papers, the medical team may give you other information, such as:
- scan and test results
- instructions about recovering at home
- guidelines about when to contact your doctor
- the date for your follow-up appointment with your surgeon
- a medical certificate setting out how much time you will need off work
- insurance forms, bills or receipts
- a list of any medicines you are taking, prescriptions or a small supply of medicines (such as pain relief)
- referrals to support services such as a dietitian or social worker.
If you want specific paperwork (e.g. a letter for your employer) and it isn’t offered, you can ask for it from the doctor, nurses, receptionist or social worker. You may want to make a copy of your paperwork for your records. In most cases, a copy is automatically sent to your GP.
Where to recover
Most people go home after discharge, but some go to an inpatient rehabilitation centre (often called a rehab hospital) to help them get safely back on their feet before going home. Learn more about rehabilitation.
Your medical team will give you information so you can continue to recover safely at home. If you are given medicines to take, make sure you know when and how to take them. Here is a list of questions to ask before you leave hospital.
Podcast: Coping with a cancer diagnosis
Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and University of Sydney, NSW; Chanelle Curnuck, Dietitian – Dietetics and Nutrition, Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group, WA; Department of Anaesthetics, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jessica Feeney, Nurse Unit Manager, Breast, Endocrine and Gynaecology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; A/Prof Richard Gallagher, Head and Neck Surgeon, Director of Cancer Services and Head and Neck Cancer Services, St Vincent’s Health Network, NSW; John Leung, Consumer; Rohan Miegel, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; A/Prof Nicholas O’Rourke, University of Queensland and Head of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital, QLD; Lucy Pollerd, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Suzanne Ryan, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Department of General Surgery, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, QLD; Rebecca Yeoh, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
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