A few years back my great-grandmother fell down the stairs at our family Christmas and broke her hip. Being the stubborn woman that she is, she refused to go to the hospital until she could see the grandchildren open their presents. So the whole group of us furiously ripped the paper off all the presents at once so we could get her into the car and off to the hospital. She’s still kicking at 109 years old, but remembering this holiday disaster made me consider what your orthopedic patients might be wishing for this month. Here’s what they might say:

"Dear Dr. Claus,

As an orthopedic patient, my Christmas wishlist is fairly specific this year. My knee replacement surgery is right around the corner and I could use a little holiday magic to make sure the experience goes well. Here are seven things I’m hoping for: 

  1. A friendly ear
    At the top of my list this year is just a friendly ear to listen to all of my questions and concerns. When it comes to my orthopedic care, I want to know that my opinions are taken seriously. If I don’t think that my providers are listening to me, I’ll have a hard time building trust with them, even if they have great qualifications and a proven track record when it comes to patient outcomes.
  2. Helpful resources 
    I may not have a medical degree, but I’d still like to be involved in the decision-making process regarding my care. To help me be as informed as possible, I’d love to find some educational resources in my stocking this year. I’m a little anxious about my upcoming procedure, but I know that I’ll feel more confident if I know what to expect and have been involved every step of the way.
  3. Cost transparency 
    Unfortunately, I know there are no Black Friday deals when it comes to orthopedic care. But at the same time, I would like to have as much information up front as possible about the costs I’m going to be responsible for. Receiving high value care is a priority for me, and I’ll trust the providers I’m working with more if I don’t feel like I keep getting hit with unexpected fees. To plan for the expenses of my care and still have enough left over for gifts for family and friends, I need to be able to plan accordingly.
  4. Personalized treatment
    I could probably do without the monogrammed sweater that my aunt sends me every holiday season. But something that I would like personalized is my orthopedic care. I know that I’m not my doctor’s only patient. But I don’t want to be treated like just another faceless, nameless person. When it comes to my treatment, I want my provider to recognize me as an individual and work with me to create a treatment plan that will meet my unique needs to ensure the best possible outcome.
  5. Pain management 
    Asking for a pain-free recovery is probably too much for even Santa to deliver. But an effective pain management plan along with an honest conversation with my doctor before the procedure about what kind of pain I can expect and what steps we can take to manage it after the surgery would be great.
  6. To be home for the holidays
    I know that I have to spend some time in the hospital recovering from my surgery, but do you think I could be home in time for the holidays? The staff at the facility are friendly and helpful, but I really feel most comfortable in my own bed. The less time I have to spend away from home, the happier I’ll be with my treatment.
  7. A new lease on life
    Ultimately, I elected to have this procedure because I want to be as active as possible at this point in my life. And that’s what I really want for the new year: a new lease on life. I know that my care team probably deals with hundreds of patients and these procedures may become routine, but for me this surgery could be life-changing. After years of pain, I may finally be able to live the way I want to again. And what more than that could I ask for?

Dr. Claus, do you think you could share this list with my care team? I know you’re a very busy man this time of year, but I would appreciate the help. And please tell everyone at the practice and hospital that I wish them and theirs a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

An orthopedic patient"