Self-Quarantine Before (and After) Your Elective Surgery

If you’re planning for an elective surgery, you may be asked to quarantine at home before, and after, your procedure. Here are a few things to consider as you prepare.
August 19, 2020 | 3 min read
Christa S. Plew, MBA
Editor-in-Chief

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.

1. Respect your medical team's guidelines.

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

  • Get screened and possibly tested for COVID-19 (usually at least a week prior to surgery), then remain home, in quarantine, until your procedure.
  • Quarantine at home for anywhere from 7 to 14 days before and/or after operation day.

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.

2. Let your medical team know about any questions you have.

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.

3. Stay home (if instructed to).

As an elective surgery candidate, quarantining may be necessary, and even mandated in some places:2

  • Before your surgery to ensure you don't contract COVID-19 while out in public
  • After your surgery to ensure you don't contract COVID-19 at a time when you may be more vulnerable to serious illness (due to the effects of surgery on your immune system)

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.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

Patient Guide to Outpatient Joint Replacement

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.

4. Stay active.

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

5. Prepare your home.

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 like:

  • Stocking up on food (including frozen and non-perishable goods)
  • Making home modifications to improve post-operative safety (e.g., removing throw rugs, installing grab bars in your bathroom, temporarily moving your bedroom downstairs)
  • Setting up your home so that you can abide by self-isolation/quarantining recommendations
  • Packing an overnight bag to bring with you to the hospital (keep in mind you may not be allowed visitors)
  • Paying bills ahead of time or scheduling auto payments
  • Arranging for your pets to stay at a kennel or with other trusted loved ones, if necessary
  • Checking (and re-checking) your internet and audiovisual devices to ensure any telehealth appointments go smoothly
  • Organizing and making copies of important phone numbers, insurance cards, etc.

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.

References
  1. COVID-19 and Surgical Procedures: A Guide for Patients (2020, Mar 31). American College of Surgeons. https://www.facs.org/covid-19/clinical-guidance/patient-guide
  2. Questions and Answers for Patients Regarding Elective Surgery and COVID-19 (2020, May). OrthoInfo - American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. https://www.orthoinfo.org/en/treatment/questions-and-answers-for-patients-regarding-elective-surgery-and-covid-19/
  3. Quarantine If You Might Be Sick (2020, Jul 16). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html
  4. How to Boost Your Immune System (2020, Apr 6). Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
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