WDHB showing success in speeding up hip and knee replacement recovery times

25 November 2014

WDHB pre-admission coordinator Diana Harrison meets with a patient prior to his joint operation.
The national Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) programme introduced at Wanganui Hospital early this year to improve patients’ recovery following hip and knee replacement surgery, is proving successful.
Local project lead Shona Kirkby says besides delivering safe, effective patient/family-centred care for patients undergoing planned hip and knee replacements, the internationally recognised ERAS model of care is focused on improving patient outcomes through the engagement, commitment and involvement of a multi-disciplinary team who work with patients undergoing the two operations.
Mrs Kirkby says patients have a thorough pre-operative assessment of their circumstances and needs, followed by carefully targeted care right through their hospital stay and their recovery at home.
“The evidence-based, ERAS approach has transformed patients’ outcomes in Europe and the UK so it’s great to see patients across New Zealand beginning to benefit from the same approach,” Mrs Kirkby says.
“Patients are mobilising earlier and we are seeing reduced lengths of time patients stay in hospital. To help them achieve this, we encourage them to sit up in chairs while having their meals and to dress in their own clothes from the first day after surgery.
“Importantly, ERAS is an approach that asks patients to engage with every member of the team we have in place to support them through the lead up to their operation, their stay in hospital and their recovery back at home.
“We give patients a lot of practical information and ask them to think ahead about things such as making sure they have prepared meals in their freezer. We like to know if they have family and friends to support them through the recovery process and what aids or other assistance they may need at home to assist with their mobility and recovery. We explain why it is vital that they follow instructions before surgery and why they must attend their medical appointments.”
Mrs Kirkby says the Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) has welcomed the opportunity to improve clinical outcomes for patients and families. It also recognises the benefits of being able to reduce waiting times for surgery and enable more effective use of WDHB resources. Orthopaedics is one of the largest elective services provided by DHBs.