All-Cause Versus Complication-Specific Readmission Following Total Knee Arthroplasty

Michele D'Apuzzo, Geoffrey Westrich, Chisa Hidaka, Ting Jung Pan, Stephen Lyman
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume 2017 July 5, 99 (13): 1093-1103

BACKGROUND: Unplanned readmissions have become an important quality indicator, particularly for reimbursement; thus, accurate assessment of readmission frequency and risk factors for readmission is critical. The purpose of this study was to determine (1) the frequency of and (2) risk factors for readmissions for all causes or procedure-specific complications within 30 days after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) as well as (3) the association between hospital volume and readmission rate.

METHODS: The Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS) database from the New York State Department of Health was used to identify 377,705 patients who had undergone primary TKA in the period from 1997 to 2014. Preoperative diagnoses, comorbidities, and postoperative complications were determined using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes. Readmission was defined as all-cause, due to complications considered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to be TKA-specific, or due to an expanded list of TKA-specific complications based on expert opinion. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was utilized to determine the independent predictors of readmission within 30 days after surgery.

RESULTS: There were 22,076 all-cause readmissions-a rate of 5.8%, with a median rate of 3.9% (interquartile range [Q1, Q3] = 1.1%, 7.2%]) among the hospitals-within 30 days after discharge. Of these, only 11% (0.7% of all TKAs) were due to complications considered to be TKA-related by the CMS whereas 31% (1.8% of all TKAs) were due to TKA-specific complications on the expanded list based on expert opinion. Risk factors for TKA-specific readmissions based on the expanded list of criteria included an age of >85 years (odds ratio [OR] = 1.32, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.15 to 1.52), male sex (OR = 1.41, 95% CI = 1.34 to 1.49), black race (OR = 1.24, 95% CI = 1.14 to 1.34), Medicaid coverage (OR = 1.40, 95% CI = 1.26 to 1.57), and comorbidities. Several comorbid conditions contributed to the all-cause but not the TKA-specific readmission risk. Very low hospital volume (<90 cases per year) was associated with a higher readmission risk.

CONCLUSIONS: The frequency of readmissions for TKA-specific complications was low relative to the frequency of all-cause readmissions. Reasons for hospital readmission are multifactorial and may not be amenable to simple interventions. Health-care-quality measurement of readmission rates should be calculated and risk-adjusted on the basis of procedure-specific criteria.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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