What is an orthopedic surgeon and what does one do? Frankly, an orthopedic surgeon is someone who has been educated and trained to diagnose and treat a number of diseases and injuries that affect bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.

More than 900,000 people undergo total hip or knee replacement surgeries each year in the U.S. With so many people being operated on, there are many opportunities where something could go wrong. Because of this, it is important to master the skills needed to perform the surgery and treat the patient as well as possible. So how do we improve patient treatment and satisfaction?

First, we need to look at the surgery process. When a patient first gets an injury, they need to have it diagnosed so the proper surgery or treatment can be applied. This is done through an examination of the medical history, physical examination, and through X-rays, though additional tests might be needed. There are some criteria used to decide if a person needs surgery or not.

The first is if there is limited mobility due to joint pain preventing the patient from performing daily tasks. The second is examining the painful area to determine range of motion, such as gait or bending. The third is the review of images taken such as X-rays. Once the surgery has been decided, physical therapy education will begin for the patient. This will be done to ensure their recovery is as quick as possible.

Patients will likely be told to remain active until the surgery to prevent limited muscle mobility from exacerbating their condition. Once the surgery is over, the patients are highly encouraged to engage in routine physical therapy to not only speed up their recovery, but also to ensure they have a wide range of motion. The first few months of therapy will determine what the patient’s range of motion will be for the rest of their life.

And now we return to our original question, how to improve patient satisfaction. Patient treatment and satisfaction involving Dr. Nakul Karkare are already very positive. The common praise given stated that Dr. Karkare is compassionate, respectfully, and considerate of each patient and their specific problems. He informs them in great detail why the surgery is needed, the steps he will take during the surgery, and how the recovery will be. However, not all surgeons operate in the same capacity.

Orthopedic surgeons can improve patient satisfaction by making the entire process as easy as possible and by spending adequate time with their patients, talking to them about their ordeal and how it will be overcome with surgery. Being operated on can be a scary experience, so people want to be assured they are in good hands. Before the surgery even begins, there are a lot of questions and paperwork to do. This can frustrate anxious or confused patients.

As long as surgeons are polite, compassionate, and attentive, they will go a long way towards putting nervous patients at ease, getting rid of their fear and uncertainty and answering all the questions they have.

2016 Scholarship Finalist

Kyle P

Jonesboro, Indiana

The final question on the application was an essay question.
The essay question was:

How can orthopedic surgeons doing hip and knee replacement surgery improve patient satisfaction?

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