Short stay after shoulder arthroplasty does not increase 90-day readmissions in Medicare patients compared with privately insured patients

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2022 Jan;31(1):35-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2021.05.013. Epub 2021 Jun 9.


Background: As of January 1, 2021, total shoulder arthroplasty was removed from the Medicare inpatient-only list, reflecting a growing belief in the potential merits of same-day discharge regardless of insurance type. It is yet unknown whether Medicare populations, which frequently have more severe comorbidity burdens, would experience higher complication rates relative to privately insured patients, who are often younger with fewer comorbidities. Given the limited number of true outpatient cohorts available to study, discharge at least by postoperative day 1 may serve as a useful proxy for true same-day discharge, and we hypothesized that these Medicare patients would have increased 90-day readmission rates compared with their privately insured counterparts.

Methods: Data on 4723 total shoulder arthroplasties (anatomic in 2459 and reverse in 2264) from 2 large, geographically diverse health systems in patients having either Medicare or private insurance were collected. The unplanned 90-day readmission rate was the primary outcome, and patients were stratified into those who were discharged at least by postoperative day 1 (short inpatient stay) and those who were not. Patients with private insurance (n = 1845) were directly compared with those with Medicare (n = 2878), whereas cohorts of workers' compensation (n = 198) and Medicaid (n = 58) patients were analyzed separately. Forty preoperative variables were examined to compare overall health burden, with the χ2 and Wilcoxon rank sum tests used to test for statistical significance.

Results: Medicare patients undergoing short-stay shoulder arthroplasty were not significantly more likely than those with private insurance to experience an unplanned 90-day readmission (3.6% vs. 2.5%, P = .14). This similarity existed despite a substantially worse comorbidity burden in the Medicare population (P < .05 for 26 of 40 factors). Furthermore, a short inpatient stay did not result in an increased 90-day readmission rate in either Medicare patients (3.6% vs. 3.4%, P = .77) or their privately insured counterparts (2.5% vs. 2.4%, P = .92). Notably, when the analysis was restricted to a single insurance type, readmission rates were significantly higher for reverse shoulder arthroplasty compared with total shoulder arthroplasty (P < .001 for both), but when the analysis was restricted to a single procedure (anatomic or reverse), readmission rates were similar between Medicare and privately insured patients, whether undergoing a short or extended length of stay.

Conclusions: Despite a substantially more severe comorbidity profile, Medicare patients undergoing short-stay shoulder arthroplasty did not experience a significantly higher rate of unplanned 90-day readmission relative to privately insured patients. A higher incidence of reverse shoulder arthroplasty in Medicare patients does increase their overall readmission rate, but a similar increase also appears in privately-insured patients undergoing a reverse indicating that Medicare populations may be similarly appropriate for accelerated-care pathways.

Keywords: Medicare; Readmission; anatomic; insurance; outpatient; private; reverse; shoulder arthroplasty.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Shoulder*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • Patient Readmission*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States