The COVID-19 pandemic has hit hard on patients waiting for orthopaedic surgeries. Extra delays added up to the already long waiting lists in Canada, the UK, Ireland and other parts of the world. As the borders open, suffering patients seek relief in private clinics abroad.
A recent study has estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause more than 28 million elective surgeries to be cancelled or postponed worldwide. The largest single block of these are orthopaedic surgeries – more than 6 million procedures likely to be affected. The situation is especially difficult in countries like Canada, the UK or Ireland, where COVID-19 delays add up to the already long pre-pandemic waiting lists.
Moreover, waiting for orthopaedic surgery is very painful. Malfunctioning knees or hips cause strong pain or even inability to walk. Some patients describe waiting for surgery as “life being put on hold.” The suffering pushes these patients to look for suitable treatment alternatives, which some of them find in private clinics abroad.
“Patients want to come as soon as the borders open,” said Prof. Šarūnas Tarasevičius, chief surgeon at Nordorthopaedics clinic – leading international orthopaedic surgery centre in Kaunas, Lithuania. “We already have Irish patients coming in June. As Lithuanian borders are open to all citizens of Ireland, some people from Northern Ireland also use this opportunity – they have Irish passports. We expect that other citizens of the UK will be free to travel in July. And by the end of the summer our clinic will have restored the pre-pandemic flow of patients.”
According to Prof. Tarasevičius, the comparative safety of Lithuanian environment is one of the reasons why patients choose Nordorthopaedics clinic. Having successfully contained the pandemic Lithuania has a very low number of COVID-19 cases and is one of the safest travel destinations. Just recently the quarantine was lifted in Lithuania – another sign of an improving situation.
However, Nordorthopaedics clinic continues the safety measures that were introduced during the quarantine. These include COVID-19 testing all patients before surgeries, not allowing visitors or accompanying persons to the clinic as well as measures of hygiene and disinfection. Most preliminary consultations are handled online as patients submit their medical history through e-mail or other means of communication.
“Having worked with international patients for many years, we are used to online or e-mail consultations,” explained Prof. Tarasevičius. “We are an experienced medical team and in most cases we prepare everything so that we proceed with surgery as soon as the patient arrives.”