Acta Orthopaedica, 89:1, 10-16, DOI: 10.1080/17453674.2017.1370845

Reduced length of uninterrupted institutional stay after implementing a fast-track protocol for primary total hip replacement

Konsta J Pamilo, Paulus Torkki, Mikko Peltola, Maija Pesola, Ville Remes & Juha Paloneva

Background and purpose — Fast-track protocols have been successfully implemented in many hospitals as they have been shown to result in shorter length of stay (LOS) without compromising results. We evaluated the effect of fast-track implementation on the use of institutional care and results after total hip replacement (THR).

Patients and methods — 3,193 THRs performed in 4 hospitals between 2009–2010 and 2012–2013 were identified from the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register and the Finnish Arthroplasty Register. Hospitals were classified as fast-track (Hospital A) and non-fast-track (Hospitals B, C, and D). We analyzed LOS, length of uninterrupted institutional care (LUIC, including LOS), discharge destination, readmission, revision rate, and mortality in each hospital. We compared these outcomes for THRs performed in Hospital A before and after fast-track implementation and we also compared outcomes, excluding readmission rates, with the corresponding outcomes for the other hospitals.

Results — After fast-track implementation, median LOS in Hospital A diminished from 5 to 2 days (p < 0.001) and (median) LUIC from 6 to 3 (p = 0.001) days. No statistically significant changes occurred in discharge destination. However, the reduction in LOS was combined with an increase in the 42-day readmission rate (3.1% to 8.3%) (p < 0.001). A higher proportion of patients were at home 1 week after THR (p < 0.001) in Hospital A after fast-tracking than before.

Interpretation — The fast-track protocol reduces LUIC but needs careful implementation to maintain good quality of care throughout the treatment process.

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