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December 18, 1996

Informing Patients About Total Hip Replacement

Author Affiliations

Wayne State University School of Medicine Detroit, Mich

JAMA. 1996;276(23):1875-1876. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540230025020

To the Editor.  —The decision to undergo elective surgery such as total hip arthroplasty ultimately rests with the patient. It is just as important for the patient to be aware of the extent of potential benefits derived from such surgery as it is to be aware of the risks. In the Clinical Crossroads article,1 the primary care physician encouraged the patient to be evaluated by a specialist, an orthopedic surgeon. What the peer reviewer, Dr Pottenger, sees as the "patient being the lone holdout against the surgeons" is shortsighted at best. A physician frequently is called upon to educate the patient as to the potential risks and benefits of undergoing a certain procedure at a certain time. What Pottenger sees as coercion also could be seen as simply educating the patient and the patient's family.Total hip arthroplasty is a major surgical intervention that is successful in the vast majority of patients.