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Life in Motion

Meet Eric L. Smith, MD, FAOA

Joint Health

Chief, Arthroplasty
Specializing in joint replacement, reconstructive surgery and revision surgery of the hip and knee

Dr. Eric Smith recently joined NEBH as Chief of Arthroplasty. A native of Northern California, Dr. Smith grew up around his family business of logging. However, when he was in high school, he met a local orthopedic surgeon and from that moment, he knew that’s what he wanted to be. We sat down with Dr. Smith and chatted about everything from patient care to the future of orthopedics.

What is your approach to patient care?
I really enjoy the interaction I have with patients. I enjoy getting to know them, I enjoy getting to make an impact on their life, and I recognize that it is a real privilege to be able to offer them an opinion regarding their healthcare. I think everything we can do to avoid surgery is important, but I also want to make sure I’m offering patients surgery at the right time depending on what their needs are. Many times, the surgery that I can perform will greatly relieve patients’ symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Can you talk a little bit about your research interests?
The research part of my practice has probably been the most educational for me and provides me with an ability to continue to get better. Things that I do now are different than I did ten years ago based on research. I currently have a large number of research projects looking at clinical outcomes, and how different procedures effect people of different sexes, races, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

I understand you like challenging patients (revisions, patients with complex medical history, etc.). Can you talk about that?
I spent 10 years in active duty in the army, including deployment to Afghanistan. From those experiences, I was able to gain a lot of surgical skill and experience that goes beyond what is normally taught in residency. I took those experiences and have applied them to the kind of challenging cases that I see now, and I really enjoy those cases.

What is one of the challenges that orthopedic surgeons face today?
One of the biggest challenges is being able to perform hip and knee replacements with as low of a complication rate as possible while being efficient. That obviously helps not only the patient, most importantly, but also helps the healthcare system by reducing cost and providing better care.

How do you feel about newer technology?
I am a big proponent of newer technologies that are utilized in a well thought out place like New England Baptist Hospital. Unfortunately, too often, newer technologies are utilized in places where they do the surgery first and then ask the questions and evaluate it later. That can lead to some bad outcomes for patients. I think the way NEBH does it is amazing in that they have an intensive evaluation process that is used before deploying any new technologies.

New technologies that I can see being utilized in the future include customized total joint replacements, robotic assisted surgery, patient specific instrumentation, and specialized tools in the operating room to deliver a cutting-edge experience. You are already seeing a lot of that here at the Baptist.

What do you like to do when you are not working?
I enjoy running and spending time with my wife, who is also an orthopedic surgeon, and our three daughters.

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