There will be questions about the joint replacement surgery and what’s to follow it. The following hints may help you to be as prepared as possible for these conversations with the doctors and other healthcare people:
- Write down your questions. Be as clear and specific as possible
- Make a list of all the patient’s medications, any alternative therapies, nutritional supplements, allergies, health conditions and the names and phone numbers of all doctors and health care providers. A list of the patient’s previous surgeries or procedures may be handy to have too
- If there’s something you don’t understand or it isn’t very clear, ask for clarification. You’re not expected to be a master of medical terminology
- Keep the doctor informed. Contact the surgeon if there are any complications from surgery – such as fever, redness, seepage or bleeding around the wound
- Details can be very important. Be open and thorough when you are talking with the doctor. Don’t be afraid to talk about sensitive or private things if they’re relevant
Some doctors set aside specific times to return phone calls. Others ask you to direct your non-emergency calls to another member of the healthcare team. If you’re uncertain who to call or when here are some questions you might like to ask:
- When is the best time to call the doctor?
- Who do I call after hours?
- Who should I call if I can’t reach the doctor?
The law protects the privacy of every patient’s medical record and healthcare professionals respect that privacy at all times. If you would like to know more about this or are concerned, check with the healthcare team – ask about their patient privacy guidelines Some doctors and hospitals will ask who the carer is and will ask the patient for permission to give you information about them, in person or by phone. Usually test result information can only be given to a patient and doctors will not leave test results on an answering machine or voicemail.
In your role as carer you will be the focal point for all communication. Hospital staff as well as family and friends will contact you to give and receive information on the patient’s progress through surgery and during the recovery period. When possible, it’s a good idea to continually check with the patient before sharing their news with others.