Purpose: Clinical pathways aimed at reducing hospital length of stay following vascular surgery have been broadly implemented to reduce costs. However, early hospital discharge may adversely affect the risk of readmission or mortality. To address this question, we examined the relationship between early discharge and 30-day outcomes among patients undergoing a high-risk vascular surgery procedure, thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) repair.
Methods: Using Medicare claims from 2000 to 2007, we identified all patients who were discharged home following elective thoracic endovascular aneurysm repair (TEVAR) and open repair for nonruptured TAAs. For each procedure, we examined the correlation between early discharge (<3 days for TEVAR, <7 days for open TAA repair) and 30-day readmission, 30-day mortality, and hospital costs. Predictors of readmission were evaluated using logistic regression models controlling for patient comorbidities, perioperative complications, and discharge location.
Results: Our sample included 9764 patients, of which 7850 (80%) underwent open TAA repair, and 1914 (20%) underwent TEVAR. Patients discharged to home early were more likely to be female (66% early vs 56% late), Caucasian (94% early vs 91% late), younger (73 years early vs 74 years late), and have fewer comorbidities (mean Charlson score: 0.7 early vs 1.0 late) than patients discharged home late (all P < .01). As compared with patients who were discharged late, patients discharged home early following uncomplicated open TAA repair and TEVAR had significantly lower 30-day readmission rates ([open: 17% vs 24%; P < .001] [TEVAR: 12% vs 23%; P < .001]) and hospital costs ([open: $73,061 vs $136,480; P < .001] [TEVAR: $58,667 vs $128,478; P < .001]), without an observed increase in 30-day postdischarge mortality. In multivariable analysis, early hospital discharge was associated with a significantly lower likelihood of readmission following both open TAA repair (odds ratio, 0.70; 95% confidence interval, 0.57-0.85; P < .001) and TEVAR (odds ratio, 0.57; 95% confidence interval, 0.38-0.85; P < .01) procedures.
Conclusions: Discharging patients home early following uncomplicated TEVAR or open TAA repair is associated with reduced hospital costs without adversely impacting 30-day readmission or mortality rates. These data support the safety and cost-effectiveness of programs aimed at early hospital discharge in selected vascular surgery patients.
Copyright © 2013 Society for Vascular Surgery. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.