But that is no longer the norm for many of our patients. Omahan Stephen Bruckner is a recent patient who was elated with his speedy recovery. Bruckner underwent a total knee replacement in January of 2014 and was home in two days and back to work about a week later. His recovery for a recent hip replacement in November of 2014 was even quicker. Bruckner left the hospital the following afternoon and was back at his desk full-time less than a week later.
Bruckner didn’t know it, but he was part of a new set of protocols called the Rapid Recovery Program, designed to discharge patients sooner, expedite recovery and get patients returning to normal activities more quickly.
Basically, we’re taking a more coordinated multidisciplinary approach to our patients’ care before, during and after surgery. This is allowing us to be more proactive in addressing potential issues before they happen. The results have been quite significant. We have cut hospital stays from approximately four days to two days in younger, healthier people and from nine to four days in older patients. Not only are patients going home sooner, but we are eliminating or greatly reducing the use of narcotics, improving pain control, reducing blood loss and getting our patients back on their feet sooner.
One of the keys to a quicker recovery is ensuring the patient has a care partner at home who can assist him or her with daily activities during the first few weeks of recovery.
Other changes we have implemented include providing more formal education to the patient and care partner before and after surgery to ensure a smoother recovery at home.
We are also getting better at doing local pain management at the site of surgery with new medications that are more effective. This has reduced and in some cases, even eliminated the need for narcotics after surgery. Occupational and physical therapists also are working more closely with the patient and getting them up and moving the day of surgery. By mobilizing patients sooner and building strength, we prevent loss of muscle strength that comes from being immobile for several days.
At home recovery is also improving. Most patients are back on their feet doing normal activities as early as two to six weeks. The number of patients requiring a skilled or rehabilitation unit has dropped to less than 20 percent.
Bruckner recently had this to say about his most recent knee replacement surgery: “I don’t recall having much pain at all. And I was riding a bike and walking within a week or two after surgery. If I didn’t tell you, no one would ever guess that I had knee or hip replacements.”
My partners, orthopaedic surgeons Beau Konigsberg, MD, and Curtis Hartman, MD, are also using the Rapid Recovery program protocols.
To make an appointment or get a second opinion from one of our orthopaedic surgeons, call 800-922-0000.