Early hospital discharge following mastectomy1
Riyad Tarazi, M.D.
Caldwell B. Esselstyn, M.D.
Thomas Kuivila, M.D.
Ina Hardesty, R.N.
Data involving 43 Consecutive patients undergoing either modified radical mastectomy, simple mastectomy, partial mastectomy, or axillary dissection following wide local excision over a four-month period were reviewed. Twenty-one patients were kept in the hospital after the operation until the drain was removed, and 22 patients were instructed about drain care and were discharged with the drain in place. The postoperative hospital stay for the first group ranged from three to eight days (mean, 5.5 days), and for the second group, zero to five days (mean, 2.1 days). Time off from work for the employed patients in the first group ranged from 17 to 34 days (mean, 25.3 days), and for the second group, one to 28 days (mean, 14.3 days). Ninety-five percent of the patients discharged with the drain in place were pleased with the early discharge. The practice of delaying discharge following mastectomy until the drain is removed is unnecessary. Considerable cost containment can be achieved by earlier discharge. Patients experience a quick sense of well being and more rapid recovery as evidenced by less time off from work.