Introduction: Current approaches to quantifying total posthospital complications and readmissions following surgical procedures are limited because the United States does not have a single health care payer. Patients seek posthospital care in varied locations, yet hospitals can only quantify those returning to the same facility. Seeking information directly from patients about health care utilization following hospital discharge holds promise to provide data that is missing for surgeons and health care systems.
Background: Because total joint replacement (TJR) is the most common and costly elective surgical hospitalization, we examined the concordance between patients' self-report of potential short-term complications and their readmissions and our review of medical records in the initial hospital and surrounding facilities.
Methods: Patients undergoing primary total hip or knee replacement from July 1, 2011, through December 3, 2012, at a large site participating in a national cohort of TJR patients were identified. Patients completed a six-month postoperative survey regarding emergency department (ED), day surgery (DS), or inpatient care for possible medical or mechanical post-TJR complications. We reviewed inpatient and outpatient medical records from all regional facilities and examined the sensitivity, specificity, and positive- and negative predictive values for patient self-report and medical records.
Findings: There were 413 patients who had 431 surgeries and completed the six-month questionnaire. Patients reported 40 medical encounters (9 percent) including ED, DS or inpatient care, of which 20 percent occurred at hospitals different from the initial surgery. Review of medical records revealed 9 additional medical encounters that patients had not mentioned including five hospitalizations following surgery and four ED visits. Overall patient self-report of ED, DS, and inpatient care for possible complications was both sensitive (82 percent) and specific (100 percent). The positive predictive value was 100 percent and negative predictive value 98 percent.
Discussion: Patient self-report of posthospital events was accurate. Substantial numbers of patients required care at outlying hospitals (not where the TJR occurred).
Conclusion: Methods that directly engage patients can augment current posthospital utilization surveillance to assure complete data.
Keywords: adverse events; complications; patient self-report; readmissions; total joint replacement.