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Is a Rapid Recovery Protocol for THA and TKA Associated With Decreased 90-day Complications, Opioid Use, and Readmissions in a Health Safety-net Hospital?

BACKGROUND: Patients treated at a health safety-net hospital have increased medical complexity and social determinants of health that are associated with an increasing risk of complications after TKA and THA. Fast-track rapid recovery protocols (RRPs) are associated with reduced complications and length of stay in the general population; however, whether that is the case among patients who are socioeconomically disadvantaged in health safety-net hospitals remains poorly defined.

QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: When an RRP protocol is implemented in a health safety-net hospital after TKA and THA: (1) Was there an associated change in complications, specifically infection, symptomatic deep venous thromboembolism (DVT), symptomatic pulmonary embolism (PE), myocardial infarction (MI), and mortality? (2) Was there an associated difference in inpatient opioid consumption? (3) Was there an associated difference in length of stay and 90-day readmission rate? (4) Was there an associated difference in discharge disposition?

METHODS: An observational study with a historical control group was conducted in an urban, academic, tertiary-care health safety-net hospital. Between May 2022 and April 2023, an RRP consistent with current guidelines was implemented for patients undergoing TKA or THA for arthritis. We considered all patients aged 18 to 90 years presenting for primary TKA and THA as eligible. Based on these criteria, 562 patients with TKAs or THAs were eligible. Of these 33% (183) were excluded because they were lost before 90 days of follow-up and had incomplete datasets, leaving 67% (379) for evaluation. Patients in the historical control group (September 2014 to May 2022) met the same criteria, and 2897 were eligible. Of these, 31% (904) were excluded because they were lost before 90 days of follow-up and had incomplete datasets, leaving 69% (1993) for evaluation. The mean age in the historical control group was 61 ± 10 years and 63 ± 10 years in the RRP group. Both groups were 36% (725 of 1993 and 137 of 379) men. In the historical control group, 39% (770 of 1993) of patients were Black and 33% (658 of 1993) were White, compared with 38% (142 of 379) and 32% (121 of 379) in the RRP group, respectively. English was the most-spoken primary language, by 69% (1370 of 1993) and 68% (256 of 379) of the historical and RRP groups, respectively. A total of 65% (245 of 379) of patients in the RRP group had a peripheral nerve block compared with 54% (1070 of 1993) in the historical control group, and 39% (147 of 379) of them received spinal anesthesia, compared with 31% (615 of 1993) in the historical control group. The main elements of the RRP were standardization of preoperative visits, nutritional management, neuraxial anesthesia, accelerated physical therapy, and pain management. The primary outcomes were the proportions of patients with 90-day complications and opioid consumption. The secondary outcomes were length of stay, 90-day readmission, and discharge disposition. A multivariate analysis adjusting for age, BMI, gender, race, American Society of Anaesthesiologists class, and anesthesia type was performed by a staff biostatistician using R statistical programming.

RESULTS: After controlling for the confounding variables as noted, patients in the RRP group had fewer complications after TKA than those in the historical control group (odds ratio 2.0 [95% confidence interval 1.3 to 3.3]; p = 0.005), and there was a trend toward fewer complications in THA (OR 1.8 [95% CI 1.0 to 3.5]; p = 0.06), decreased opioid consumption during admission (517 versus 676 morphine milligram equivalents; p = 0.004), decreased 90-day readmission (TKA: OR 1.9 [95% CI 1.3 to 2.9]; p = 0.002; THA: OR 2.0 [95% CI 1.6 to 3.8]; p = 0.03), and increased proportions of discharge to home (TKA: OR 2.4 [95% CI 1.6 to 3.6]; p = 0.01; THA: OR 2.5 [95% CI 1.5 to 4.6]; p = 0.002). Patients in the RRP group had no difference in the mean length of stay (TKA: 3.2 ± 2.6 days versus 3.1 ± 2.0 days; p = 0.64; THA: 3.2 ± 2.6 days versus 2.8 ± 1.9 days; p = 0.33).

CONCLUSION: Surgeons should consider developing an RRP in health safety-net hospitals. Such protocols emphasize preparing patients for surgery and supporting them through the acute recovery phase. There are possible benefits of neuraxial and nonopioid perioperative anesthesia, with emphasis on early mobility, which should be further characterized in comparative studies. Continued analysis of opioid use trends after discharge would be a future area of interest. Analysis of RRPs with expanded inclusion criteria should be undertaken to better understand the role of these protocols in patients who undergo revision TKA and THA.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, therapeutic study.

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