My 87-year old father was just admitted to the hospital for surgery for a broken hip. We know his age is against him. He's also a smoker, so that's another strike against him. What can we do to help prevent complications and problems after the operation?
Minor and major complications are fairly common after hip surgery for fracture. Prevention of problems like blood clots, wound infection, pneumonia, and urinary tract infection is up to the hospital staff to do their job well. But this doesn't mean that you can't monitor activities and ask appropriate questions.
For example, patients are routinely put on low molecular weight (LMW) heparins (blood thinners) to prevent blood clots. At the same time, compression stockings are put on the patient's legs to help keep swelling down and blood flow smooth and clot free. Ask what medications he's on and observe to see that the stockings are worn as recommended.
It's important to get the patient up and moving as soon as possible. Families can certainly help with this. With nursing approval, walk with your father around the room, to the bathroom, or around the hospital floor.
A physical therapist will likely be seeing your father early after surgery. The therapist will instruct him in the proper way to get up out of bed, transfer to and from chairs, and walk with a walker, crutches, or cane. Find out what you can do in between PT sessions.
Always wash your hands when entering the room. This helps prevent the spread of bacteria that can cause infections. Ask each member of the health care team to do the same. In many facilities, gloves are put on when coming into the patient's room so handwashing is not required. However, if the health care provider comes into the room with gloves already on, then hand (glove) washing is still required.
Nader Paksima, D.O., M.P.H., et al. Predictors of Mortality After Hip Fracture. In Bulletin of the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. Vol. 66. No. 2. Pp. 111-117.
*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.