Orthopedic Surgery nurses continue to care for patients who have returned home.

These days, it’s routine for patients who have had orthopedic surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) to receive a phone call from the nurses who cared for them at the hospital after they go home.

“We ask patients if they had trouble getting pain medications, how their pain is, whether the visiting nurse and physical therapist came to the house and if they know when their follow-up appointments are,” said Mary Anne Kenyon, MPH, MS, RN, ONC, Nursing Director, Department of Orthopedic Surgery.

Through the calls, BWH nurses have learned how they can ensure that patients have a smooth transition back home. This includes making sure prescriptions for pain medications are available and that patients learn how to take their medications correctly before they leave the hospital.

Similar improvements are being developed and tested across other BWH departments in areas known as Innovation Units. The Innovation Units were formed to test new models of care delivery, improve communication, and quickly determine which changes are working. The goals of the Innovation Units include:

  • Making certain that care is patient- and family-centered
  • Assuring care is safe and effective
  • Looking for ways to continually improve the quality of care provided

Early indications are that practices adopted by Innovation Units, such as the one in the BWH Department of Orthopedic Surgery, are meeting their goals. With increased communication, patients have reported improvements in the management of their pain.

Another idea to help patients transition home is the Nursing Care Transitions Program, aimed at ensuring the most vulnerable patients, such as seniors, are able to safely return home after their hospital stay. The program will be implemented later this year.

Innovation Units are just one way BWH is working to improve health care delivery.  Learn about our other initiatives:

Liz M., Jamie R.

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