Background: Unplanned readmissions following elective total hip (THA) and knee (TKA) arthroplasty as a result of surgical complications likely have different quality improvement targets and cost implications than those for nonsurgical readmissions. We compared payments, timing, and location of unplanned readmissions with Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)-defined surgical complications to readmissions without such complications.
Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis on unplanned readmissions within 90 days of discharge following elective primary THA/TKA among Medicare patients discharged between April 2013 and March 2016. We categorized unplanned readmissions into groups with and without CMS-defined complications. We compared the location, timing, and payments for unplanned readmissions between both readmission categories.
Results: Among THA (N = 23,231) and TKA (N = 43,655) patients with unplanned 90-day readmissions, 27.1% (n = 6307) and 16.4% (n = 7173) had CMS-defined surgical complications, respectively. These readmissions with surgical complications were most commonly at the hospital of index procedure (THA: 84%; TKA: 80%) and within 30 days postdischarge (THA: 73%; TKA: 77%). In comparison, it was significantly less likely for patients without CMS-defined surgical complications to be rehospitalized at the index hospital (THA: 63%; TKA: 63%; P < .001) or within 30 days of discharge (THA: 58%; TKA: 59%; P < .001). Generally, payments associated with 90-day readmissions were higher for THA and TKA patients with CMS-defined complications than without (P < .001 for all).
Conclusion: Readmissions associated with surgical complications following THA and TKA are more likely to occur at the hospital of index surgery, within 30 days of discharge, and cost more than readmissions without CMS-defined surgical complications, yet they account for only 1 in 5 readmissions.
Keywords: comprehensive care for joint replacement; cost; readmission; timing; total joint arthroplasty.
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