No increase in readmissions or adverse events after implementation of fast-track program in total hip and knee replacement at 8 Swedish hospitals: An observational before-and-after study of 14,148 total joint replacements 2011–2015Urban Berg, Erik BüLow, Martin Sundberg & Ola Rolfson
Background and purpose — Fast-track care programs in elective total hip and knee replacement (THR/TKR) have been introduced in several countries during the last decade resulting in a significant reduction of hospital stay without any rise in readmissions or early adverse events (AE). We evaluated the risk of readmissions and AE within 30 and 90 days after surgery when a fast-track program was introduced in routine care of joint replacement at 8 Swedish hospitals.
Patients and methods — Fast-track care programs were introduced at 8 public hospitals in Västra Götaland region from 2012 to 2014. We obtained data from the Swedish Hip and Knee Arthroplasty Registers for patients operated with THR and TKR in 2011–2015. All readmissions and new contacts with the health care system within 3 months with a possible connection to the surgical intervention were requested from the regional patient register. We compared patients operated before and after the introduction of the fast-track program.
Results — Implementation of the fast-track program resulted in a decrease in median hospital length of stay (LOS) from 5 to 3 days in both THR and TKR. The total readmission rate <90 days for THR was 7.2% with fast-track compared with 6.7% in the previous program, and for TKR 8.4% in both groups. Almost half of the readmissions occurred without any AE identified. There was no statistically significant difference concerning readmissions or AE when comparing the programs.
Interpretation — Implementation of a fast-track care program in routine care of elective hip and knee replacement is effective in reducing hospital stay without increasing the risk of readmissions or adverse events within 90 days after surgery.