The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 33 , Issue 10 , 3138 - 3142

Rapid Recovery Total Joint Arthroplasty is Safe, Efficient, and Cost-Effective in the Veterans Administration Setting

Yanik, John M. et al.
Hip Knee


Institutional pathways in total joint arthroplasty (TJA) have been shown to reduce costs and improve patient care, but questions remain regarding their efficacy in certain populations. We sought to evaluate the comprehensive effect of a rapid recovery perioperative TJA protocol in the Veterans Health Administration (VA) setting.


In a VA hospital, a rapid recovery protocol was implemented for all patients undergoing primary total hip or knee arthroplasty. A retrospective chart review was performed comparing pre-protocol (n = 174) and protocol (n = 78) cohorts. Measured outcomes included length of stay (LOS), discharge destination, unplanned readmissions, overall complications, and total cost of healthcare during admission and at 30 and 90 days postoperatively.


After implementation of the protocol, the average LOS decreased from 3.2 to 1.7 days (P < .0001). In the protocol group, there was a 12.3% increase in patients discharging directly home (85.1% vs 97.4%, P = .005). There were lower unplanned readmissions (6.3% vs 3.8%, P = .56) and overall complications (7.5% vs 3.8%, P = .40), but these were not statistically significant. The summative cost of all perioperative healthcare was lower after implementation of the protocol during the inpatient stay ($19,015 vs $21,719, P = .002) and out to 30 days postoperatively ($21,083 vs $23,420, P = .03) and 90 days postoperatively ($24,189 vs $26,514, P = .07).


In the VA setting, implementation of a rapid recovery TJA protocol led to decreased LOS, decreased cost of perioperative healthcare, and an increase in patients discharging directly home without increased readmission or complication rates. Such protocols are essential as we transition into an era of value-based arthroplasty.

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