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Fast Track Discharge Following Hip Replacement May Be Safe for Some Arthritis Patients

By Carol Eustice, About.com Guide   July 22, 2011 My Bio

This study really caught my eye. It reminded me of the first hip replacement I had — all the way back in 1980 when I was about to turn 25 years old. Yes, extremely young. I thought so too. I had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis just 6 years earlier and there I was in need of a hip replacement. The surgerywas a complete success (thank goodness) but I remember I was kept in the hospital 10 days for that procedure and that was considered a fast discharge back then. The next time I had a revision hip replacement, I was out in 7 days. Following the last revision hip surgery I had, in 2005, I was discharged in 3 days. The trend, as you can see, has been for shorter hospital stays. Shorter the better, as far I was concerned.

The study I referred to, before traveling down memory lane, was published online in the HSS Journal (The Musculoskeletal Journal of Hospital for Special Surgery). Researchers concluded that carefully screened patients undergoing total hip replacement could be discharged from the hospital two days after surgery, without any increase in complications or adverse effects compared with the more traditional protocol that kept patients hospitalized longer. The new protocol, referred to as the Fast Track Protocol, encourages patients to get up and moving sooner, stops epidural pain relief earlier, prescribes aspirin to prevent blood clots, and arranges home physical therapy.

The traditional discharge for hip replacement surgery is 4 days or more. The two-day discharge was appropriate for relatively healthy patients in the study and tended to be those with normal blood pressure who were not held up by postoperative pain, nausea, or dizziness.

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