New hip replacement therapy halves hospital time, says surgeon


An innovative form of hip-replacement therapy, which cuts time in hospital in half, should be rolled out across the health service, an orthopaedic surgeon has said. Derek Bennett said the programme known as Rapid Recovery, which originated in Denmark, amounts to a “win-win” situation for both patients and hospitals.

He said that since rolling out the programme in Mayo General Hospital in Mullingar two years ago, the hospital has halved the length of stays and doubled productivity when it comes to hip replacements.

Currently the average stay in hospital for a hip replacement is five to seven days, but those involved in Rapid Recovery usually have a stay of between two and three days.

Although the procedure is essentially the same, the Rapid Recovery programme involves preparing patients for the fastest possible exit.

They are taught how to use crutches before surgery and to start exercising half an hour after surgery. They are also given painkillers before, not afterwards, to facilitate this.

Mr Bennett said he had “no doubt” that the procedure would become standard practice in Irish hospitals, “but it is a matter of awareness. The hospital spends less money and the patient is less dependent on care.”

Annual meeting
Mr Bennett is one of two Irish members on the European Board of Orthopaedics & Traumatology which held its annual meeting in Ireland earlier this month. It was attended by Minister for Innovation Richard Bruton.

Ireland produces half of the world’s hip-replacement implants and has three of the big four manufacturers – Stryker, Zimmer and DePuy. Mr Bennett said senior representatives from Biomed, the fourth of the big four, were at the meeting and he was confident it, too, would set up a manufacturing plant in Ireland. “I’m hoping they will do the same calculations their competitors have done and they will come up with the same answer.”