Selection of patients for inpatient rehabilitation or direct home discharge following total joint replacement surgery: a comparison of health status and out-of-pocket expenditure of patients undergoing hip and knee arthroplasty for osteoarthritis

Kate L Tribe, Helen M Lapsley, Marita J Cross, Brett G Courtenay, Peter M Brooks, Lyn M March
Chronic Illness 2005, 1 (4): 289-302

OBJECTIVES: To analyse the differences in patient health outcomes and out-of-pocket costs following hip and knee joint replacement for osteoarthritis between patients who went home immediately after the acute care hospital stay and those who were admitted to inpatient rehabilitation care before going home.

METHODS: One hundred and eighteen patients undergoing total hip or knee replacement in Sydney, Australia completed cost diaries, SF-36 and WOMAC Index, pre-operatively and for one year post-operatively.

RESULTS: The health status of all groups improved significantly from before surgery to 12 months post-surgery. No significant difference in health status at 12 months post-surgery was seen between home and rehabilitation patients for either hip or knee replacement. Both hip replacement home and rehabilitation patients and knee replacement home patients reported lower out-of-pocket expenditure from before surgery to 1 year post-surgery.

DISCUSSION: The majority of total joint replacement patients can be discharged directly home and achieve excellent outcomes at 12 months post-surgery. We would recommend more focused randomized studies to explore the most suitable patient selection for rehabilitation.

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