In addition to the clinical knowledge updates that are undertaken regularly, I also spend time every year considering to whom you should be referred should this be required. As you can imagine, in medicine there are often changes, an inevitable result of scientific evidence evolving and leading to new and improved best practice guidelines and advances in treatment options. In many surgical specialties, safety and outcome data are now routinely available. We should be using these resources to make good decisions together.
1 in 2 of us will eventually consider a joint replacement
I know that a lot of us develop significant aches and pains as we grow older, be that related to injury, ongoing osteoarthritis or other factors,@ and, as a result, some of us will eventually consider joint replacement surgery. Within the next 30 years, this may well be one in two people. Naturally, as this is a common problem, we have hordes of orthopaedic surgeons in private practice in the locale, so what is important in how we choose the specialist you would most benefit from?
How to choose an orthopaedic surgeon?
If I needed a replacement joint, I would want to know that the following bases are covered:
- Does the surgeon perform a sufficient quantity of this type of surgery to be any good at it?
- Are the surgeon’s outcome data available to review and is the surgeon happy to discuss?
- Are the anaesthetists good at the hospital you will be admitted to?
- What happens if things go wrong? Both in the short term – you are ill immediately after your surgery, or in the longer term if your joint does not recover as expected?
- What is the post-operative journey like? How quickly will you approach your recovery, how soon will you be home and what
- is the post-operative infection rate, does your rehabilitation plan fit you and is it included as part of your care package?
- Will your insurance provider meet the costs involved?
What does this mean in practice?
Taking all of this into account, I am planning to send more of the orthopaedic referrals I make to the Schoen Clinic, as this clinic is set up to meet all of these ends and, most importantly, they have good checks and systems to ensure they are doing as well as they say that they are.
Safety is top of the agenda in this hospital, so much so that the ward doctors are all consultant anaesthetists who are specialised in ITU level care. This means that any peri-operative difficulties or complications can be spotted quickly and dealt with effectively.
Please note, this decision is based on overall outcomes, all data available in the public domain and I’ve also done a review of safety procedures in this modern, specialised orthopaedic hospital. This is by no means a commentary on the scope of practice or the ability of any of the other surgeons to whom I refer, nor a reflection on the safety or procedures of other hospitals in this area.
As I move through the clinical specialties, there will be more to follow on how I help you to make these decisions. All questions welcome at any stage.