About 45 minutes before surgery, Joseph Nessler, MD, will stop by pre-op to mark the correct surgical site of his total joint patients. He’ll say hello, note his initials where he intends to cut and ask if the patient has any last-minute questions. Then he’ll do something subtle that he believes makes a major impact in the patient’s mindset going into surgery. Dr. Nessler, an orthopedic surgeon who performs hip and knee replacements at St. Cloud (Minn.) Surgery Center, will tell each patient, “OK, they’re going to take you back to the OR soon, and then a few hours after that we’ll have you up and walking around.”
The choice of wording — combining “a few hours” with “up and walking around” — and the simple reassurance of his comment works wonders on most patients psychologically, according to Dr. Nessler. When they come in for surgery, they’re very nervous about going under the knife and having their procedure done, then suddenly their surgeon is talking to them about getting up and walking around. “It sets their mind to already thinking about recovery, before they even have the surgery,” he says.