March 15, 2020

Approaching treatment decisions together

Understanding the risks and benefits of available treatment options is an important part of developing a comprehensive care plan.

Approximately 10,000 patients undergo hip and knee replacements in Alberta each year, and nearly the same number of people do not proceed with surgery. Personal preferences for treatment matter, especially when considering an elective procedure to repair the joint. Evidence shows a treatment plan made in collaboration with the patient helps align treatment decisions with the patient’s personal goals and values, and in the end, increases patient satisfaction.  Gone are the days of ‘doctor always knows best.’

The Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute (ABJHI) will be working with Alberta Health Services (AHS) Bone and Joint Health Strategic Clinical Network (BJH SCN), AHS Improving Health Outcomes Together (IHOT) team, and hip and knee clinics across the province to help enhance the discussions that take place with patients regarding surgical decisions. Along with support tools for providers, patient handouts have been developed to clearly outline the benefits and risks of both surgical and non-surgical care for hip and knee osteoarthritis. “The handouts will help prepare and empower patients to ask questions at their surgeon consultation and better understand the impact that either treatment may have on their life,” says Kira Ellis, BJH SCN Provincial Osteoarthritis Practice Lead.

The handouts answer questions such as: What pain reduction might result from either treatment? Are there possible negative effects from joint injections? What is the risk of blood clots in the Alberta surgical population? Will the new joint last forever? How will the joint be affected if surgery is delayed? These handouts aim to support patients in making informed decisions by sharing evidence on what can be expected from osteoarthritis care in Alberta.