Objective: To evaluate the effects of early discharge from hospital on women being operated on for primary breast cancer.
Design: Open study in self-selected patients.
Setting: Karolinska and Sabbatsberg Hospitals, Stockholm.
Subjects: 169 consecutive patients operated on for primary breast cancer.
Main outcome measures: All patients were asked to fill in a questionnaire about their perception of their disease and factors associated with the operation.
Results: 118/169 patients participated, and of these 28 (24%) chose early discharge with the drain still in place. They were compared with the 90 patients (76%) who were discharged without a drain. The median stay in hospital for those who chose early discharge was 2 days, and for those who remained in hospital until the drain was removed, 6 days. There were no differences between the groups in type or incidence of complications, and the groups were equally satisfied with their length of hospital stay and their treatment in hospital. Those who opted for early discharge were significantly younger than those who did not (mean SD) 52 (14) compared with 62 (13) years, p = 0.001).
Conclusion: Early discharge from hospital with the drain still in place after operation for primary breast cancer was not found to be associated with any untoward events.