Hip Replacement: Why “No Patient Unformed”

Let’s face it, the moment you are told by your doctor that you need to have your hip replaced or resurfaced, like most folks – it can be frightening. And your head may spin. Questions and concerns may appear and you must know where to turn for the answers – that’s why I am writing today – so that as a patient you have a weapon. That weapon is information. Hence the importance of this title -“No Patient Uniformed”.

As an Orthopedic Surgeon, I’ve always been amazed by the response of many of my Colleagues to this idea, even more to this practice. And there’s no doubt about it- many surgeons feel their time is better spent at the operating table, handling the numbers of patients they are required to see, or reading Medical Journals versus the time that might be spent on informing and educating their patients.

I think every one understands that if communications skills were requisite for matriculating medical school, graduating classes might be a lot smaller. In a word, many if not most surgeons are not ‘ace’ communicators. Now that being said, I will also add if there has to be a choice of surgical skill or communicative skill- hands down we choose – skill. I do too, but then as an orthopedic surgeon I know all about the risks, benefits, and complications of most surgical procedure, therefore I don’t require informational help on my own behalf!

My 35 years as a surgeon and as someone who also had their hips replaced have taught me many things, but one that is paramount – when the well-informed patient on whom I will operate, becomes part of the solution – a valuable junior partner – that well-informed patient has a positive impact on the resultant surgery.

Sounds right? It would to most patients, and even many doctors. BUT it doesn’t always happen! Both patient and doctor must take some responsibility for ‘being part of the solution.’

Here are a few thoughts:

– Start by asking questions that are important to you – and no question is out-of-bounds.

– Write down all your questions/concerns for the office visit with your surgeon. And in turn bring your complete medical history.

– Ask the risks and benefits of the proposed surgery. Since you are the object of surgery be certain you understand what will happen and how you get from diagnosis to recovery.

The more knowledge and information you have as a patient, the more confident and in control you will feel about the procedure, and the more sure you will be as you put your hip health in your surgeon’s hands.

After I finished my rehab, I vowed to make sure that Total Hip Replacement and Resurfacing candidates be “part of the solution, not part of the problem”.
Dr. Mary Ellen Hecht is an orthopedic surgeon and the author of “A Practical Guide to Hip Surgery”. This concise handbook provides readers with all the details before undergoing hip replacement or resurfacing surgery, directly from an orthopedic surgeon who has performed countless hip surgeries and undergone a double hip replacement herself!

Author: Health Care on October 15, 2010
Category: Arthritis
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