The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 34, Issue 7, 1307 - 1311

Rapid Discharge and Outpatient Total Joint Arthroplasty Introduce a Burden of Care to the Surgeon

Shah, Roshan P. et al.
Hip Knee


Rapid-pathway outpatient (OTJA) and one-night inpatient (ITJA) arthroplasty require close follow-up by the surgeon. We quantify and characterize the total perioperative touches required in the first 7 days, and compare OTJA and ITJA patients.


We reviewed 103 consecutive primary total joint arthroplasty (TJA) patients from April 2014 without exclusion; all patients were discharged either within 5 hours or the morning after surgery. All telephone and office visits during the first 7 days following surgery were studied. Specialized outpatient TJA education was included. We measured the frequency, duration, and subject matter of phone calls. Simple Poisson regression analysis and t-tests were used to determine significance.


None of the 103 rapid pathway patients were lost to follow-up. Average age was 61.2 years (range 26.9-83.0), with 49 females (47.6%), 78 total knee arthroplasties, average Charlson Comorbidity Index score of 2.1, and average body mass index of 29.5 kg/m 2. There were 253 touches required, averaging 2.5/patient. One hundred sixty were outgoing phone calls by the surgical team and 93 were incoming calls from patients. The average duration of each call was 4.74 minutes (SD 3.7). The entire group required 19 hours and 35 minutes of telephone contact. After including specialized education time, this cohort required 83.1 hours of clinical time, or 48.4 minutes per patient.


Postoperative care after rapid pathway TJA requires a significant burden of resources, shifted from the hospital to the surgeon. We found that both rapid pathway groups require similar work by the surgeon’s team. This additional work should be considered by policymakers.

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