The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 34 , Issue 1 , 20 - 26

Emergency Department Visits Within Thirty Days of Discharge After Primary Total Hip Arthroplasty: A Hidden Quality Measure

Saleh, Anas et al.


Thirty-day hospital readmissions following total hip arthroplasty (THA) have received increasing scrutiny by policy makers and hospitals. Emergency department (ED) visits may not necessarily result in an inpatient readmission but can be a measure of performance and can incur costs to the health system. The purpose of this study is to describe the following: (1) the frequency and subsequent disposition; (2) patient characteristics; (3) reasons; and (4) potential risk factors for ED visits that did not result in a readmission within 30 days of discharge after THA.


All primary THAs performed at a large healthcare system between 2013 and 2015 were identified. Patients who received unplanned hospital services for complications within 30 days following surgery were identified and analyzed. A multiple regression analysis was utilized to identify risk factors predisposing for returning to the ED without readmission.


From a total of 6270 primary THAs, 440 patients (7%) had an unplanned return to the hospital within 30 days. Of those, 227 (3.6%) patients presented to the ED and were not readmitted. Higher percentage of African Americans was noted among patients who returned to the ED versus those who did not (20.2% vs 9.8%, P < .01). The most common medical diagnoses were nonspecific medical symptoms (24.8%) followed by minor gastrointestinal problems (10.5%). The most common surgery-related diagnoses were pain and swelling (35%), followed by wound complications (12%) and hip dislocations (7.3%). Nearly 50% of wound complications and 40% of hip dislocations were managed and discharged from the ED without a readmission. Both African Americans (odds ratio 2.28, 95% confidence interval 1.55-3.36) and home discharge (odds ratio 1.90, 95% confidence interval 1.28-2.82) were independent risk factors for return to the ED without readmission.


ED visits that do not result in hospital readmissions, many of which may be due to serious complications, are more frequent than inpatient readmission. This is extremely relevant to policy makers and quality metrics, especially as comprehensive and bundled payment initiatives become more prevalent.

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