Department of Health


An overview of day surgery models, their benefits and the key principles to their safe introduction and expansion.

Day surgery models – also known as same-day surgery models – admit and discharge the patient the same day they have surgery. Discharge suitability should be assessed on criteria and if the patient is clinically stable post-operatively.

The benefits of day surgery models for well-selected patients include:

  • supporting patient engagement in their care decisions and empowering them in their own recovery by facilitating their return to a familiar environment
  • reducing risks of hospital-acquired complications
  • promoting early mobilisation and faster return to baseline performance in activities of daily living.

Day surgery models also optimise use of health system resources, including:

  • decreasing hospital length of stay
  • improving patient flow (service wide)
  • minimising hospital-initiated postponements secondary to bed blockages
  • increasing theatre utilisation
  • reducing surgical waitlists.

Key principles

Safer Care VictoriaExternal Link recommends following the key principles below for safe introduction and expansion of day surgery models. The key principles within this toolkit serve as a template for health services to use to guide safe implementation of day surgery models of care.

Key principles for safe introduction and expansion of day surgery models

Flowchart showing key principles for safe introduction and expansion of day surgery models
Key principles for safe introduction and expansion of day surgery models

Establish a day surgery multidisciplinary team

  • Leadership and clinical governance
  • Develop local clinical pathways based on best practice

Before surgery

  • Patient selection according to defined criteria
  • Setting expectations for patient/carer and GP
  • Optimisation/Prehabilitation
  • Discharge planning

Day of surgery

  • Plan and prioritise day cases
  • Allied health support
  • Criteria-led discharge

On discharge

  • Discharge with appropriate support at home
  • Post-surgery care instructions, including escalation criteria and pathway
  • Follow-up care within 48hrs of discharge

Discharge 24-48 hr follow up options

  • Virtual Care - Phone call/telehealth review
  • Pre-arranged GP or outpatient appointment
  • HITH - HITH conduct home visits

Evaluation and continuous improvement

  • Quality improvement methodology supports implementation and sustainability
  • Monitor and measure outcomes
Download Key principles for safe introduction and expansion of day surgery models


We would like to acknowledge the New South Wales Agency for Clinical InnovationExternal Link and Queensland HealthExternal Link for their previous work on day surgery models of care, which served as a foundation for this toolkit.

We also extend our thanks to the Safer Care Victoria (SCV) Perioperative Learning Health NetworkExternal Link staff (LHN) and advisory group members for their invaluable contributions, and the creators of the resources featured in this toolkit. Their efforts have been instrumental in making this toolkit possible.

Reviewed 24 July 2023