Patients Susan Roberston Halil and Sandy Van Veluewen at the launch of the same-day joint surgery pilot program at Grafton Base Hospital.
Patients Susan Roberston Halil and Sandy Van Veluewen at the launch of the same-day joint surgery pilot program at Grafton Base Hospital.

Hip surgery? No knee-d to stay more than one day

IT MAY HAVE taken five to seven years of work, but Grafton Base Hospital will soon be able to get people moving home on the same day from hip and knee operations.

The pilot program, which Grafton Base Hospital surgeons Dr Sam Martin and Dr Michel Genon believe may be one of the first in Australia, allows hip and knee replacement patients to return home on the same day as their surgery when clinically safe and appropriate.

While advanced surgical and anaesthetic techniques and better post-operative pain management have reduced the length of stay for patients having major joint replacements, Dr Martin said it was still around four to five days in most cases.

Dr Sam Martin, orthopaedic surgeon and program lead, said the pilot program is based on research that suggests patients can have successful outcomes given the right care and support in their own home, without the added stress of a hospital stay.

"There is compelling evidence that for many patients, a day stay joint replacement is safe with equal or better results compared to a longer hospital stay, in terms of the patient's return to function," Dr Martin said.

"We also know that getting moving again soon after surgery is shown to reduce the recovery time for patients.

Patient Susan Robertson Halil, Chris Gulaptis Member for Clarence, patient Sandy Van Veluewen, and Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Sam Martin at the launch of the same-day joint surgery pilot program launch at Grafton Base Hospital.
Patient Susan Robertson Halil, Chris Gulaptis Member for Clarence, patient Sandy Van Veluewen, and Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Sam Martin at the launch of the same-day joint surgery pilot program launch at Grafton Base Hospital.

"Within 3-4 hours of the surgery, under the care of our physiotherapy team, patients can begin moving, and will remain in hospital for at least 6 hours before they go home.

"This is a significant achievement for a small regional centre like Grafton."

Dr Martin said that the pre-operation education was key to the same-day treating, with patients aware of the procedure and what is involved in the program.

It is that aspect that patient Sandy Van Veluewen said gave her the confidence to be part of the program.

"It was amazing, way beyond my expectations," she said.

"The pre-operative checks made me really confident because I knew I was only going to be in here for the day.

"It was the new techniques and the pain management, I was really confident so when I got out of bed I knew straight away there was no trouble. It made me feel really good that I was able to go home."

General Manager Clarence Health Service Dan Madden said patients will be supported through telehealth and face-to-face specialist care to review pain management and wound recovery. Patients also have regular physiotherapy sessions in the weeks following their surgery

"This program is really the culmination of an outstanding team effort, from surgeons and anaesthetists, to nursing staff, and allied health staff who support the patients before and after surgery," he said

Dr Martin said that getting off to a good start helped the recovery.

"I'm interested in my patients in getting on with life type of recovery rather than an in hospital exercise based recovery - and the results of that are clear," he said.

"I don't think there's anything better you can do than go home and get on with life."

The pilot program is expected to run for six months.



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