What to bring

  • A small bag to place your clothes in during your procedure
  • Something warm to wear while you're waiting for admission
  • A list of your medications or the medications as well as your x-rays or scans if you have them
  • Consent forms completed by you and your doctor
  • Medicare card, pension or concession card, if you have one
  • Private health fund card if you have one
  • Credit card
  • Physical aids such as glasses, hearing aids (with cases), walking stick, mobility aids
  • Something to read

We recommend you don't bring any money or valuables with you to hospital. We're not responsible for any lost or damaged items that belong to you, your family or any visitors.

How much it costs

If you're eligible for Medicare, day surgery is free. If you're not eligible for Medicare, you'll need to pay all hospital charges before you have any surgery. How much it costs, depends on the type of surgery. Find out more about what's covered by Medicare.

Preparing for day surgery

You usually need to arrive several hours before your surgery. You'll be told what time to arrive on the day before your surgery.

Before your day surgery, a nurse will check you. Your anaesthetist may also visit you.

They may examine you, review your health history questionnaire and ask you more questions, such as:

  • How have you reacted to other anaesthetic and operations that you've had?
  • Has anyone in your family had problems with anaesthetics?
  • What medicines or tablets are you taking?
  • Are you allergic to anything or had a bad reaction to anything?
  • What are your past and present medical problems?
  • What are your smoking and drinking habits?
  • Have you had dental work?
  • Do you have digestive problems or reflux?

Before surgery

You can't eat or drink before your operation. You'll be told before you come to hospital how long you'll need to go without food and drink. It's usually at least 6 hours before you have your surgery. You can check this with your doctor.

You may need to get more tests done. This could be another physical check. Your anaesthetist may also order extra tests.

Your anaesthetist will talk about the anaesthesia with you. They might give you some medicine just before your operation to help you feel sleepy and relaxed.

You may be asked to remove any false teeth and jewellery.

Anaesthesia for day surgery

Before your operation, you'll be taken to the operating room to have the anaesthetic. The type of anaesthetic depends on the type of surgery and your health.

It may include:

  • general anaesthesia – this is usually done with an injection into a vein in the back of your hand and to render you unconscious
  • regional anaesthesia – is more complex, ask your doctor for more information
  • local anaesthesia – this is generally reserved for small and simple procedures with only the immediate area surrounding the injection being numbed.

Straight after the surgery

After your operation you'll be taken to a recovery room. You might not remember much of this because of the drugs you've been given.

If you were given a local anaesthetic for a small procedure, you'll be discharged shortly after your surgery. You may stay in the day surgery for one or two hours after leaving the recovery room.

You'll need to have a friend or family member drive you home.

Side effects and complications of anaesthesia

Some of the side effects and possible complications of anaesthesia include:

  • drowsiness
  • sore throat
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • short term memory loss
  • bleeding at the injection site
  • infection at the injection site
  • low blood pressure
  • headache
  • temporary nerve damage
  • kidney failure
  • liver failure
  • allergic reaction to the anaesthetic
  • seizure
  • muscle aches
  • dental injury.

You can discuss these with your GP or specialist.

Taking care of yourself at home

If you've been given sedatives, pain relievers or general anaesthesia, you may feel drowsy after your procedure.

This is because a small amount of the anaesthetic may remain in your body. This can slow your reaction time and affect your judgement for the next 24 hours.

During this time, you shouldn't:

  • drive a car
  • operate dangerous machinery
  • drink alcohol
  • sign any documents
  • care for young children without other adult help.

Last updated: December 2022