Choosing Hospital vs. Surgical Hospital

Today’s world of healthcare offers an endless array of options. Medical conditions that were once addressed in an inpatient hospital setting, like orthopedic surgery, for example, can now utilize a variety of options (including outpatient procedures and surgical hospitals).



But do you fully understand the options that are available to you?

Let’s take a closer look at hospitals versus surgery centers/surgical hospitals to have a better understanding of the situations and conditions that can benefit from having a “choice” when it comes down to where the procedure takes place.

What is a surgical hospital?

Surgical hospitals are similar to ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) in that they are freestanding healthcare facilities (often physician-owned and lead) that specialize in providing surgical care.

Surgical hospitals, however, go above the outpatient surgical offerings of an ambulatory surgical center and also provide inpatient surgery options for certain medical needs and conditions (like joint replacement, for example).

In recent years, surgical hospitals have transformed the landscape of healthcare, providing patients with an alternative to the traditional hospital setting. They are widely regarded for their quality of care, low infection rates and positive outcomes.

But how are such great outcomes achieved?

Short answer: it ultimately comes down to specialization.

Only certain types of procedures are completed in the surgical hospital setting on a regular basis. And on top of that, the patients who are receiving treatment are typically “injured” as opposed to “sick,” which drastically reduces infection rates and virus transfer between patients

Who is eligible for surgical hospital procedures?

Individuals seeking potential treatment at a surgical hospital should be in good overall health and require a minimally invasive or low-risk procedure.

People who need invasive or high-risk surgery, are obese or have had previous cardiac intervention should consult with their physician before scheduling their procedure at a surgical center or surgical hospital.

While surgical hospitals are required to have an emergency plan in place, they do not have a full emergency room onsite and cannot accommodate unplanned surgical scenarios.

Factors to consider when deciding between the two options…

Type of Surgery

Outpatient procedures performed in surgery centers continue to be on the rise, thanks to improvements in technology.

Minimally invasive procedures (like various types of plastic surgery) have been done for decades in ASC-type settings. But, as advances in technology and techniques hit the mainstream, other specialties began to perform procedures in settings outside of a traditional hospital.

Today, common procedures in a surgical center or surgical hospital include specialties like ophthalmology, gastroenterology, gynecology, otolaryngology, orthopedic surgery and pain management.


Depending on the type of surgery needed, the location of the facility should be part of your consideration.

If you are in need of an inpatient procedure, you will likely have at least one day of recovery onsite (so location may not be as much of a concern). However, if your surgery is outpatient in nature, you will leave the facility the same day.

Make sure you have someone who is able to drive you to and from the facility or hospital. And beyond that, make sure that the drive is within a reasonably comfortable distance. (You are, after all, just getting out a surgical procedure!)

Surgical Timeframe

If time is of the essence, then oftentimes, it’s easier and quicker to schedule procedures in a surgery center or surgical hospital than it is at a traditional hospital.

Teams of qualified staff are easier to coordinate (because they do the same procedures on a daily basis), scheduling is better controlled and, often, surgeries are completed more efficiently in a surgical hospital setting.


Be sure to shop around when looking for a location for your procedure. Many people do not realize that costs can fluctuate from place to place!

In most cases, you will find that surgeries performed at a surgical hospital cost significantly less than if they were done in a hospital setting. And, keep in mind that, depending on your insurance coverage (deductibles, co-insurance, etc.), this price difference can directly affect your pocket!

Benefits of a Surgical Hospital

Improved Outcomes

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the surgical hospital setting is often safer and cleaner, reducing the risk of infection by nearly half as compared to a traditional hospital setting.

Additionally, surgeries are often completed faster and the recovery period is typically shorter for procedures that are completed in a surgery center.

Cost Savings

Hospitals have historically been the go-to for surgery. But, as costs associated with insurance deductibles and healthcare-related treatments continue to rise, people are looking outside the traditional four walls for treatment.

Often the cheaper option (sometimes half the cost), surgical hospitals are rapidly growing in popularity because they don’t carry the huge overhead costs associated with a typical hospital.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, “Orthopedic Reviews estimated in 2016 average cost savings from 17.6 percent to 57.6 percent associated with orthopedic outpatient procedures compared to similar procedures performed in the hospital. ASCA concluded that knee arthroscopy patients could save $1,275 in out-of-pocket costs by choosing to have their procedure in an ASC as opposed to a hospital outpatient facility.”

Individualized Service

Surgical hospitals have a better nurse to patient ratio because they are providing care to fewer patients at once, which equates to more personalized attention.

Additionally, the staff is only working with a handful of conditions, of which they see on a regular basis. They are extremely familiar with the process, typical recovery timeframes, common patient needs and potential areas of concern.

In most ambulatory surgery centers, your nurse will follow along with you from check-in right up to the procedure itself.

Patients often note how well the doctors and staff know their situation and medical background, and surgical hospitals typically have a satisfaction rating in the 90th percentile.

Faster Scheduling

Delays are not common, and emergency procedures that push appointments behind aren’t an issue in a surgical hospital.

Additionally, physicians are able to assemble specialized surgical teams easily, giving them more control over the surgical atmosphere and ultimately provide expert, efficient care.

When is it better to have surgery in a hospital?

Even though more procedures are being done in a surgical hospital setting than ever before, there are still incidences when a patient may be better suited for a traditional hospital setting.

Some disadvantages to having surgery in a surgical hospital setting include:

  • Limited surgery options available
  • Lack of ICU and emergency room facilities onsite
  • Not set up to accommodate longer observation/recovery timeframes

Hospitals continue to be better equipped to handle higher risk cases. They also have more staff and equipment at their disposal for patients who may have stronger reactions to anesthesia or are more likely to experience surgical complications.


Choosing a surgical facility is ultimately a case by case situation. As procedures and techniques continue to advance, more surgical options become available in the surgical hospital setting.

Surgeries conducted outside of a traditional hospital can be a safe, affordable option for many people, including those in need of orthopedic surgery, gastroenterology procedures, pain management interventions and much more.

Ideal surgery center patients are in good general health and require minimally invasive or low-risk procedures.

However, be sure to discuss your options with a medical professional.

Consider all factors that may come in to play, like past surgical complications, heart conditions and need for high-risk interventions.

Wondering if you’re a candidate for surgery at one of the Edgewood Surgical Hospital locations? Call or message our staff to see if you qualify!