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Authors: Alexander Sah, MD; John Dearborn, MD
Specialty: Orthopaedics

In today’s world, living a long life is not enough – people want to stay healthy, active and self-sufficient well into their 70s and 80s. In order to do so, joint replacement, most commonly of the hip or knee, may be necessary.

At Washington Hospital’s Institute for Joint Restoration and Research, joint replacement is both an artform and a science. As co-directors, we’ve built our program to streamline the process of knee and hip replacement, turning what was once a weeklong stay in the hospital into an outpatient procedure without sacrificing outcomes or quality of care.

How have we accomplished this? With education and specialization.

Mastery Through Specialization

The old adage, “practice makes perfect” is especially true in medicine.

When Washington Hospital first decided to concentrate on its joint replacement program in 1997, it was doing anywhere from 50 to 70 procedures per year. Knowing that the population was aging, we set out to become the regional gold standard for patient care and outcomes. To achieve this, we had to specialize.

By narrowing our focus to hip and knee replacements exclusively, building a team around comprehensive joint replacement, and putting the patient experience first, we were able to increase our patient volume. As with any science, more volume means more data points, and more data points mean a more accurate practice of medicine, reduced complications and infection, and improved patient outcomes.

Two decades later, the IJRR performs more than 1,500 knee and hip replacements each year for people from all over California, as well as nationally and internationally, and is recognized within the medical community for its high standards of care and is a resource for joint replacement best practices.

Knowledge to Succeed

At Washington Hospital, we practice patient first care. Within the context of the IJRR, that means taking a comprehensive approach to joint replacement by treating the whole patient. And, while surgery is obviously an important part of this process, so is preoperative education.

Before a patient ever enters the operating room, they’ve been counseled, prepared and are ready to succeed. In the weeks leading up to surgery, patients and their caregivers go to a preoperative teaching session led by our nurses and physical therapists. In addition to building a rapport with the staff that will be caring for them during their hospital stay, these sessions teach them about the procedure and, most importantly, what they can do before and after surgery to ensure the best outcomes – physically and mentally.

We don’t sugarcoat things. We believe that knowing exactly what to expect helps patients and their caregivers enjoy the highs and work through the lows of the recovery process, and empowers them to become stewards of their own recovery.

At the Institute for Joint Restoration and Research, we know our patients have high expectations. Specifically, they expect their joint replacement procedure will be successful and that they can go back to working, moving and enjoying life as quickly as possible. It’s our job to make it happen.

Using the most advanced surgical procedures available, a skilled team of surgeons, nurses and therapists, and our signature patient-centered approach to care, we’re changing lives one joint at a time.

Posted August, 2018