Medical and surgical comanagement after elective hip and knee arthroplasty: a randomized, controlled trial

Ann Intern Med. 2004 Jul 6;141(1):28-38. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-141-1-200407060-00012.


Background: Hospitalists are assuming an increasing role in the care of surgical patients, but the impact of this model of care on postoperative outcomes is unknown.

Objective: To determine the impact of providing a collaborative, hospitalist-led model of care on postoperative outcomes and costs among patients having hip or knee arthroplasty.

Design: Randomized, controlled trial.

Setting: Academic medical center.

Participants: 526 patients having elective orthopedic surgery who are at elevated risk for postoperative morbidity.

Measurements: Length of stay, inpatient postoperative medical complications, health care provider satisfaction, and inpatient costs.

Interventions: A comanagement medical Hospitalist-Orthopedic Team compared with standard postoperative care by orthopedic surgeons with medical consultation.

Results: More patients in the hospitalist group were discharged from the hospital with no complications (61.6% vs. 49.8%; difference, 11.8 percentage points [95% CI, 2.8 to 20.7 percentage points]). Fewer minor complications were observed among hospitalist patients (30.2% vs. 44.3%; difference, -14.1 percentage points [CI, -22.7 to -5.3 percentage points]). Observed length of stay was not statistically different between treatment groups. However, when adjusted for discharge delays, mean length of stay for patients in the hospitalist model of care was shorter (5.1 days vs. 5.6 days; difference, -0.5 day [CI, -0.8 to -0.1 day]). Total costs did not differ between groups. Orthopedic surgeons and nurses preferred the hospitalist model.

Limitations: Care providers and patients were aware of intervention assignments, and the study could not capture all costs associated with the hospitalist model.

Conclusions: The comanagement medical Hospitalist-Orthopedic Team model reduced minor postoperative complication rates with no statistically significant difference in length of stay or cost. The nurses and surgeons strongly preferred the comanagement hospitalist model. Additional research on the clinical and economic impact of the hospitalist model in other surgical populations is warranted.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip* / adverse effects
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip* / economics
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip* / standards
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee* / adverse effects
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee* / economics
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee* / standards
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Female
  • Hospital Costs
  • Hospitalists*
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthopedics*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors