Saturday, November 29, 2014

Elective Holiday Surgery: Who Does That? (Research, Video 2:59)

Would you choose to have surgery during the holidays? Do you think most people would? It’s a common belief among hospital staff that patients would prefer being at home during the holidays and not getting surgery at a medical facility. Staff members even reduce the surgery times because they think there will be a lack of interest. After all, the holidays are supposed to be all about love and good times, not having operations. Right? Actually, there is little evidence to prove that is the case.

Let’s look at the research on elective surgery during the holidays and see what  310 patients attending surgical or urological outpatients had to say. They were given a self-completion questionnaire asking them whether they would accept admission over Christmas and Easter holidays if they had a choice. Overall 77 per cent of males and 76 per cent of females would accept admission over the Christmas holidays for elective surgery. This rises to 87 per cent and 88 per cent over the Easter holidays.

Who are these people who would choose surgery during the holidays? They are older patients, widows or widowers, retired patients, and patients with severe symptoms and conditions. Contrary to the perceived opinions of hospital staff members, these patients said they would accept admission for elective surgery over the Christmas or Easter holiday periods.

A common surgery for older adults is knee replacement. In this video, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Marc E. Rankin uses a model of a leg bone and a thigh bone to demonstrate how knee replacement surgery is done:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
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  1. One thing that I am thinking is that senior patients would like to get surgery over the holidays because their families would be off work to help take care of them. That is one logic that I can think of. Maybe they also think that the hospitals would be less crowded during the holiday seasons, which would be preferable. I know that I personally would like to have surgery at the beginning of the holidays in order to save vacation days.

  2. I agree, Katrina. Also, loved ones visiting from out of town and on school breaks could assist with care as well.

  3. Perhaps those seniors who would choose over-holidays surgery are among those who feel lonely and depressed during holiday periods, and believe that surgery at those times would distract them. After all, while recovery from surgery is going on, they are no longer "nobodies".

  4. You make a very interesting point that is certainly possible, although unfortunate.