Hospital Discharge Within 1 Day After Total Joint Arthroplasty From a Veterans Affairs Hospital Does Not Increase Complication and Readmission Rates

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Background: Attempts to control costs associated with total joint arthroplasty have included efforts to shorten hospital length of stay (LOS). Concerns related to patient outcomes and safety with decreased LOS persist. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether discharge on postoperative day (POD) 1 after joint replacement is associated with increased rates of 90-day return to the operating room, and 30-day readmissions and emergency department (ED) visits. Methods: After chart review, 447 patients admitted between January 2, 2013 and September 16, 2016 met inclusion criteria. All patients underwent one total joint arthroplasty. Patients were either discharged on POD 1 (subgroup 1) or POD 2 or 3 (subgroup 2). Statistical evaluation was performed using Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney tests for continuous variables, and Fisher exact tests for categorical and frequency data. Statistical significance was established at P ≤.05. Results: Subgroup 1 had significantly fewer return trips to the operating room (P =.043) and significantly fewer 30-day readmissions (P =.033). ED visits were not significantly different between groups (P =.901). Conclusion: Early discharge after joint arthroplasty appears to be a viable practice and did not result in increased rates of reoperation within the 90-day global period, or rates of 30-day readmission and ED visits. Our results support the utilization of an early discharge protocol on POD 1, with no evidence that shorter LOS results in higher rates of short-term complications.



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