07:00 AM

Surprising New Reason for Hospital Readmission Rates

Orthopedics This Week reports on the findings of an HSS study which examined the reasons patients return to the emergency room (ER) and are readmitted following total joint surgery, and found that patients who live close to the hospital are more likely to visit the emergency room for follow-up care of pain, inflammation and other issues than those who live farther away. 

Study lead Bradford S. Waddell, MD, hip and knee surgeon at HSS commented on the findings, stating, "Everybody is hurting after knee and hip surgery, but if you have easy access to the ER you’re just going to pop on in." Dr. Waddell explained, "We noticed a trend that patients were being discharged sooner and with the introduction of the electronic medical records, we felt that there was an increase in communications to the physician, either by phone or by email. This led us to investigate who was calling versus showing up to the clinic. With that, we expanded to see if those who traveled further had more complications as a result of being further from the ER." Additionally, Dr. Waddell cited "When we looked at the data, we were surprised to see that patients who lived closer to the hospital/ER, presented to the ER more often for reasons not requiring readmission (such as pain and swelling). This has led us to change how we educate patients, so they call us or show up in the clinic, as opposed to the very expensive ER."

Furthermore, when asked about particular language that might be helpful in counseling patients, Dr. Waddell advised, "Basically, explaining that while one day you will be extremely happy you had a joint replacement, the healing process can be quite rigorous and painful. We have opened lines of communication so that the patients are more likely to call us before appearing to the ER."

Read the full article at ryortho.com.