Kaiser Permanente Research Study Reveals Mastectomy Patients Can Recover Safely at Home

A recent Kaiser Permanente Research study, across 21 Kaiser sites in Northern California, reinforces a growing movement toward sending mastectomy patients home just hours after surgery.

The New Trend: Mastectomy Becomes a Day Procedure

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat recently reported that Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center, one of the Kaiser study sites, was where Wendy Woods, a Santa Rosa hairdresser, needed to have the procedure done. Ms. Woods “jumped at the chance” to go home and heal. She felt fine after the mastectomy back in November 2018. She is a member of a growing number of breast cancer patients that go home same day after surgery, reports Martin Espinoza of the Press Democrat.

Less Invasive Procedures

Post the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (which required health insurers to pay for reconstructive surgery for mastectomy patients) it was standard medical practice to cover women’s stay at the hospital for at least two days. But with time new innovative procedures and an increase in usage of nonnarcotic pain and inflammation therapy has led to reduced hospital stays—of less than 24 hours.

The Study

Published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, this was the first large evaluation of a hospital systemwide-at-home recovery program for mastectomy patients reports Espinoza. Brooke Vuong, MD, lead author and cancer surgeon at Kaiser Permanente’s South Sacramento Medical Center reported “Patient’s often want to go home. They can sleep in their own beds, and they have the ability to recover in their own familiar environment.” Titled Implementation of a Post-mastectomy Home Recovery Program in a Large integrated Health Care Delivery System, the study revealed that the rate of home recovery post mastectomy increased from 23% regionwide to 61% in the 6 months after the program started, with no significant changes in emergency-department visits, reoperations or readmissions.

Lead Research/Investigator

Brooke Vuong, MD, lead author and cancer surgeon, South Sacramento Medical Center

Gillian Kuehner, MD senior author and surgeon, Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center

Margaret Mentakis, MD, co-author and surgeon, Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center

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