Hospital recovery time for hip ops is down, but readmissions are up, study finds

The length of time people are spending in hospital following hip ops has dropped, but the number of people heading back into hospital for further treatment has risen, according to the results of a data analysis.

Researchers at the University of Iowa studied Medicare records for people who had undergone total hip replacement surgery between 1991 and 2008, and discovered that in that time the surgery had improved, meaning patients were spending less time in hospital after the operation. The mortality rate has also dropped.

However, Peter Cram and his team found that the percentage of patients being discharged to specialist centres after the operation had risen dramatically, along with the amount of 30 and 90-day readmissions.

He said: "First, we found that despite increasing patient complexity, both unadjusted and adjusted mortality for primary total hip arthroplasty showed substantial improvement over time. Our second finding was that for revision total hip arthroplasty, unadjusted mortality appeared to increase modestly but this increase was largely explained by increasing patient complexity."

The doctor added that the third, and most important finding, was that the marked decline in length of stay in hospital corresponded with an increase in the number of patients discharged to post acute care facilities and patient readmissions.

A recent survey by the BBC found that people are having to wait longer for hip operations now than they have done in recent years.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

1. Cram, Peter et al. "Clinical characteristics and outcomes of medicare patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty, 1991- 2008". Journal of the American Medical Association. 20th April 2011.

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