(HealthDay News) — A program of phone follow-up by nurses can reduce problems that discharged patients may experience after undergoing orthopedic surgery, according to research published online February 23 in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Marco Clari, RN, of the University of Rome, and colleagues randomly assigned patients undergoing low- or medium-intensity orthopedic surgery to a structured telephone follow-up call (intervention group) or routine care (control group) after discharge. In this double-blind study, a senior orthopedic nurse provided educational support by phone to the intervention group.

The researchers observed significant reductions in all post-discharge problems among the intervention group, except for pain and mobilization. Patients in the intervention group also had a lower chance of experiencing frequent or severe problems. Factors that strongly correlated with problems after discharge included the educational intervention and poor health prior to the surgery. Patients who received follow-up with a telephone call thought that the information was valuable.

“A nurse-led telephone follow-up is a simple, feasible, and low-cost tool to improve patients’ outcomes after discharge,” the authors write.

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