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Shorter Hospital Stay for Total Hip Replacement Saves Money

Posted on: 08/30/2005
Surgeons are under pressure to reduce the cost of total hip replacements (THRs). One way to do this is to shorten the hospital stay. In this study one orthopedic surgeon compared the costs of inpatient versus outpatient THR.

Ten patients were in each group. The outpatient THR patients were admitted and discharged within 12 hours. This was possible using a minimally invasive operation (MIO). One surgeon did all 20 operations. Only a small incision is made for the MIO. There is very little blood loss and less postoperative pain than with the open incision approach.

The author reports the total charges for outpatient THR were $4,000 less than for inpatient surgery. Most of the added costs were linked with drugs, lab tests, room charges, nursing, and physical therapy care.

If only one-third of today's THR could be done on an outpatient basis, more than $300 million would be saved each year. There may be other factors to think about. Results of the surgery and patient satisfaction are important. More studies are needed to show that the cost savings go along with a safe and effective outcome.

Kim C. Bertin, MD. Minimally Invasive Outpatient Total Hip Arthroplasty: A Financial Analysis. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. June 2005. Vol. 435. Pp. 154-163.

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