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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Knee replacement surgery: There’s some comfort in that

Here's a story from a California-based patient advisor who prefers to remain anonymous:

Two years ago I had a knee replacement.  They had a two-hour class for ten of us having a joint replacement.  They required it as preparation for surgery.  They gave us an overview, and then also tools, for instance a calendar.  They led us through an exercise: Put your surgery date on the calendar, then go ten days back and write down a note to stop your Motrin or other anti-inflammatory meds; and then lay out the future, with your post-op appointment ten days out.  They told us what kind of healing you should see within two weeks.  It was really comprehensive.  

They gave us a cleansing antibacterial to use at home prior to surgery, and demonstrated how you use those and work with those.  The class engaged you to do all you could to keep the risk of infections low.  They were very transparent about infection being the #1 concern, and how they’d support us as patients both before and after we’d go home.  

After the surgery, when I got home and took off the bandages, I had some redness.  They were able to help me through the smart phone.  I sent pictures to the nurse, and she said it wasn’t a problem.  That attention to the level of detail about possible infection was really reassuring.  They’re typically pretty forward-thinking.

I encouraged them to do some research to see the rates of infection before and after.  I found it so valuable, as did everyone in the class with me.  I was clearly on the young side of the class, by about 25 years.  For the 70- and 80-year-olds who were having this done, having a tangible tool like the calendar and having someone there to walk them through this was great!  This generation is often challenged to engage in their own care.  It moved them to do that, because they have the tools and the support to enable that to happen.

There was also something intangible for a group setting like that, with a number of people all going through that together.  With groups of patients, they get confidence from each other; that normalizes the experience.  There’s some comfort in that, that the surgeon is that experienced, but also that it’s routine.  It also normalizes the experience of our being engaged, like the way we all were doing our calendars.

I’m so impressed with the whole clinic and the surgeon, and their emphasis on safety, starting even prior to surgery at the pre-op visit and class.  

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