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bolter 08-08-2012 01:04 PM

torn ligament in knee
I have a friend who is 82yrs. old and lives up in Providence RI. He lives alone with no living relatives. We keep in touch. He was having knee pain and went to hospital. They took xrays and said he had arthritis in knee. At this point he couldn,t walk on leg so they put him in a rehab-nursing home type of place. They were doing physical therapy on knee and getting him to walk but the pain kept up for couple weeks so they did an MRI and found a torn ligament. I just called him and they said he went to Drs. office to get ligament fixed but would not tell me more because I,m not a relative. My question is can they fix a torn ligament outpatient and how long is recovery. Besides the knee he,s very healthy, never smoked or taken as much as an aspirin and doesn,t drink. He does however show signs of dementia and I,m afraid when I do talk to him he might forget what the Dr. told him. Thanks, Bolter

ldy12 08-08-2012 09:31 PM

Re: torn ligament in knee
Hi bolter,

I am sorry your friend is having such trouble and is basically all alone in dealing with this issue. You are a good friend to be so caring to check up on him.

If he does have a torn ligament in his knee (most likely it is his ACL - anterior cruciate ligament), they cannot do an ambulatory (same day surgery) repair. And given your friend's age and beginnings of dementia, they DEFINITELY WOULD NEVER ALLOW HIM TO GO HOME THE SAME DAY OF SURGERY!! I'm sure you've heard of baseball players who have surgical repair of their ACL and are usually out for most if not all of the season in which the tear occurs. It normally takes a MUCH YOUNGER PERSON than your friend about 3 to 5 months to fully rehab from ACL repair surgery. IT IS, just as a total knee replacement surgery (both knees of which I had done) MAJOR SURGERY! One does NOT just have the repair and get up hours later and walk out of the Recovery Room and go home! Especially at your friend's advanced age of 82!

I hate to have to tell you this, but, because of the HIPPA privacy laws, and the fact that you are NOT related to this gentleman, HIS CAREGIVERS CANNOT DISCLOSE his condition to you, unless he had previously designated you as his HEALTH CARE PROXY THAT CAN BE done in the hospital or by an attorney. But, since you say your friend has signs of dementia, he might not understand what a Health Care Proxy is for! Thus, his doctors and surgeons are bound by the HIPPA laws to protect your friend's medical privacy.

Suggestion: If you can go visit him as a friend wherever they are currently treating him, maybe you can explain to him in simple terms that you would like to be his Health Care Proxy, and he can sign the form, legally naming you as such. This would enable you to make medical decisions for him when he can no longer do so himself. If you can make this happen, it would give you piece of mind that he's no longer alone in his medical situation and will know that he has you as his advocate! One caveat though - given his mild dementia, I would consult your own attorney first and get advice on how to make the Health Care proxy document stand up to legal scrutiny! You don't want to be questioned as to whether your motives for your friend are less than COMPLETELY ALTRUISTIC!! His health care providers COULD CHALLENGE YOUR MOTIVES AS COERCION and believe me, THEY WOULD!

Since my late father's passing seven years ago, I have made sure that I have 3 people I trust to act on my behalf, should I become incapacitated and unable to make my own medical decisions in partnership with my doctors. I also have a Living Will and Advanced Directive that tells my doctors under what conditions I would want to be a DNR (do not resuscitate.) That's the OTHER document you should talk to your friend about, after seeking the advice of your own attorney so you can help your friend.

Hope all this advice helps. Let me know how you pursue this and keep me posted on your friend's health.

Best regards,

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