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Improving patient education before joint surgery

In 2010, the Department of Orthopeadics began offering total joint workshops to improve patient education for those receiving total hip or knee replacements

The workshops are led by a multidisciplinary team consisting of representatives from nursing, physical therapy, quality support services and orthopeadic surgery. The team’s effort has helped make the workshops successful in improving patient experiences during total joint replacement surgery at Tufts Medical Center. 

At the workshops patients learn what happens before, during and after their surgery. Educators talk with patients about pre-operation requirements including physicals and blood tests; learn about what the surgical areas look like, such as the holding room, operating room and waiting area. Physician-assistants, nurses and clinical educators also explain the surgery itself and show patients what the different surgical instruments look like. 

Patients also learn what to expect during their hospital stay, including pain management, physical or occupational therapy, and the discharge process. Educators explain what happens once patients leave the hospital, including how continued rehabilitation therapy will aid recovery, how to get assistance when ordering any special equipment for home and what patients and families can anticipate life to look like in the weeks following surgery. To conclude the sessions, workshop leaders answer any remaining questions
Total joint workshops are offered monthly. Families are invited and encouraged to attend the patient education sessions because the joint replacement surgical process largely involves the physical and emotional support of loved ones. 

Upon completion of the workshop, educators ask patients for feedback. Program leaders will continue to improve the program based on the provided feedback, but so far, patients have been overwhelmingly happy with the workshop outcomes. Providing comprehensive patient education prior to surgery can significantly ease patient anxiety and make the surgical process easier for the whole family.