Columbia Heart Surgery
The most experienced cardiac surgeons. Call (212) 305-2633 for appointments.

Discharge Home After Heart Surgery: What to Expect

Home Discharge

Most patients are discharged to home between 3 to 5 days after heart surgery. Have someone at home to assist you in the first few days after you return from the hospital. Your companion should not be afraid to leave you alone for periods of time.

Prior to discharge, you will receive a physical therapy walking program, prescriptions for any medication you will have to take at home, a discharge plan from the social worker regarding rehabilitation or home care (if necessary) and discharge instructions from the nurse, cardiologist, PA, or surgeon.

This section on recovering at home is applicable to minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery with the exception of lifting. You are not restrained to the 5-10 pound limit. The basic rule of thumb is that if it hurts, don't do it.

At least one follow-up visit with your surgeon and cardiologist is recommended within the first 4 to 6 weeks after discharge. To guarantee continuity of care, you should schedule an appointment with your referring or local cardiologist and internist as soon as possible after you leave the hospital.

Please click here to download the Post-Discharge Patient Pathway, outlining how to manage your recovery at home.
Por favor oprima aqui para descargar instrucciones despues de ser dado de alta describiendo el manejo de su recuperacion en la casa.

Discharge Planning Assistance

If you do not have a companion/family member to attend closely to you for a few days after you return home, please ask to see a social worker. NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center social workers have a Master Degree in Social Work and are state certified. As a member of the health care team, the social worker will assess and assist the patient and family in dealing with discharge planning as well as non-medical needs and concerns related to illness. This may include meeting with the patient and family in individual or group sessions or helping to work out financial or insurance related issues.

Social work services can be obtained in one of the following ways:

  • A social worker may visit routinely to determine whether you need help
  • You or your family may request the services of a social worker via your nurse or the Cardiac Education Coordinator
  • Call the Cardiac Social Worker at (212) 305-1969.

While the majority of patients go directly home from the hospital, some may require home care, a rehabilitation facility, or other specialized facility. It is important to keep an open mind about what you will need at discharge to complete your recovery. In most instances, discharge alternatives are decided after the operation:

  • Acute Rehabilitation: If a transfer to an acute rehabilitation facility is required, every patient must apply to three acute facilities and will be transferred to the facility that has the first opening.
  • Sub-Acute Rehabilitation: If a patient cannot tolerate the three hours of intense therapy in an acute rehabilitation setting, sub-acute rehabilitation may be an option, which offers one to two hours of therapy. The patient must apply to five sub-acute facilities and the patient will be transferred to the facility that has the first opening.
  • Long-Term Care: If the patient requires placement in a long-term care facility, the social worker will assist in identifying appropriate facilities and in the application process.

More Heart Surgery Guides

For more information, call us at (212) 305-2633 or use our appointment request form.