About Your Stay
The average length of stay in the hospital after a joint replacement is two to five days. However, everyone is different, and you and your orthopaedic surgeon decide when you are ready to leave. During your hospital stay, you receive care from your healthcare team in the orthopaedic unit. This team prepares you for your return home or discharge to a rehabilitation or extended-care facility.
Items to pack:
- Loose-fitting shorts and comfortable casual clothing
- Nightgown, pajamas, or boxer shorts
- Elastic stockings, if you have them
- Sweater or sweatshirt that can be removed
- Tennis shoes or flat rubber-sole shoes that tie or slip on. Shoes should be comfortable and large enough to allow for swelling. Do not wear clogs, slippers or high heels. You may bring non-skid slippers to use in your room.
- Personal hygiene toiletries
- Eyeglasses, contact lenses and denture cases. Please make sure all cases are labeled with your name.
- Current medicines in their original bottles or a list of the medicines, their dosages and how often you take them.
- Information on food or medicine allergies
- A copy of your Living Will/Advanced Medical Directive (if you do not have it with you during your pre-admission testing).
- A copy of your Power of Attorney (if you did not have it with you during pre-admission testing).
- The Patient Education Guide
- If you do not have a handicapped parking placard and would like one, please bring your Pennsylvania driver’s license or a Pennsylvania issued photo ID.
Do not bring:
- Credit cards
- Large amounts of cash
Once you are in your room, you may feel groggy. You will also see the surgical dressings and tubes that were put in place during your surgery. They are a normal part of post-surgical care.
Intravenous Fluids and Antibiotics
You are given fluids and nourishment through an IV. It is removed on the second day following surgery, if you are drinking fluids. Antibiotics are also given through IV to prevent infection.
You have a compressive dressing after surgery. The dressing is changed on the second or third day following the surgery and daily after that.
A drainage tube may be inserted after your surgery. This tube collects bloody drainage after surgery. Your drain will be removed on the first or second day following your surgery.
Susquehanna Health’s medication management is done in part with our computer system. Your name band will have a barcode on it that is unique to you. The computer has a barcode scanner to verify that the correct medications are given to the correct patient. This is another important patient safety measure used by UPMC.
Elastic Support Stockings
Elastic stockings may be placed on one of your legs. After your dressings is changed, a stocking is placed on the operated leg. You continue to wear your stockings for about four to six weeks after surgery.
Due to the effects of anesthesia, you may receive oxygen through a tube in your nose. Periodically, a monitor will be placed on your finger to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood.
You will take Coumadin to prevent blood clots. A blood sample is drawn daily for testing. The results of the blood test will help determine the dosage needed and adjustments will be made as indicated.
If you are lightheaded, dizzy, or if your blood count is low, your surgeon may want you to receive a blood transfusion.
All medicines must be ordered by your orthopaedic surgeon after surgery and given to you by your nurse. Do not take your own medicines as this can cause bad side-effects.
Pain Medicine and Pain Control
One of the most important factors influencing the outcome of your recovery is pain management. You will not be able to perform required activities effectively if you are in too much pain. Starting in the recovery area and throughout your hospital stay, nurses, doctors and therapists are going to ask you what your pain level is on a scale of 0 to 10.
While you are in the hospital, you will be asked to rate the intensity of pain you are experiencing through the use of a pain scale. A pain scale is a line numbered from 0-10, with each number representing a degree of pain. A sample of a pain scale is shown above.
Pain is controlled by a variety of medications, as ordered by your orthopaedic surgeon. Medicines can be given to you intravenously, as an injection in your muscle or as a pill. These medications are given on an as-needed basis.
It is unrealistic to tell you that we can take away all of your pain but a pain level at a “4” or “5” is tolerable for most people. Be proactive in your pain control. Tell the nurse how the medicine is working. Are the pills lasting for four hours or are you having some pain after three hours? The orthopaedic surgeon can change your pain medicine routine and make it right for you but you need to tell your care team how it is working.
If you have an epidural for pain control, medicine runs continuously through a thin tube placed in your back before surgery. It controls your pain from the waist down until you are ready to take pain pills. On the second day after surgery, the epidural is stopped and you are given pain pills to control discomfort. We encourage you to take the pain pills before therapy.
UPMC is dedicated to providing patients with a comfortable hospital stay experience after joint replacement surgery in Williamsport, PA, and the surrounding areas.