When the coronavirus pandemic first reached the United States, hospitals around the country began postponing elective surgeries like hip, knee, ankle, and shoulder replacements. This was done in an attempt to preserve critical space, equipment, and personnel for the possibility of a large number of sick individuals becoming hospitalized with COVID-19.1
Now that some states are able to better measure the impact of COVID-19 in their region, many facilities are rescheduling elective procedures. This is great news for people who have waited months, or even years to have surgery. But, you may feel leery about having to be in quarantine before and after your operation. Here are a few things to consider as you prepare.
Protocols vary, but your facility will probably ask you to do 2 main
things in order to have your elective surgery during COVID-19:2
These precautionary steps are recommended for your protection and to reduce the risk of surgical complications. They're also to protect your loved ones, the medical staff, and even other patients and members of your community.
You should be briefed in detail about what to do before and after
your procedure, even if it's during a telehealth visit. But, if you're
ever in doubt about what to do, simply contact your medical providers.
They are often abiding by local, state, and federal guidelines, so
defer to your care team with questions.
Don't assume you know the answer to a question about quarantine—just ask. Hospital staffs know it's an uncertain time for everyone.
As an elective surgery candidate, quarantining may be necessary, and
even mandated in some places:2
Quarantining means staying at home, monitoring yourself for COVID-19 symptoms, and separating yourself from other people inside your home, especially if these people are still going out.3 This should begin as soon as you get home from your pre-op COVID test and last until your surgeon gives you the all-clear. While inconvenient, it's a temporary measure intended to keep you and others safe.2
If you absolutely must go out for any sort of essential business (including any follow-up visits, physical therapy sessions, or other medical appointments), you should reportedly wear a face mask, practice good hand hygiene, and remain six feet away from others.2
Did you know that some joint replacement procedures have the option for outpatient surgery? Click here for a free guide to outpatient joint replacement surgery.
Find ways to safely stay active every day while quarantining. Walk
around your house or property. Play with your pets. Do approved
exercises from your physical therapist or doctor. In addition to
staying active, take good care of your health by getting good sleep,
eating nutritious food, and managing your stress. These simple steps
are natural ways to help your immune system.4
Don't leave yourself stranded while quarantining. Talk to your loved
one or caregiver about what you can set up ahead of time so have
everything you need before and after surgery. Think about tasks
It may feel like a strange time to get an elective surgery done, but hospitals and doctors are doing everything they can to keep their patients safe. You can do your part by quarantining before and after you big day, taking good care of your health, and following your facility's guidelines.