UMMS Affiliation

Department of Orthopedics and Physical Rehabilitation

Faculty Mentor

Patricia D. Franklin

Publication Date


Document Type



Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Orthopedics | Rehabilitation and Therapy | Surgical Procedures, Operative


Background: Evaluating posthospital complications and hospital readmissions in the United States is limited under the current system. This is due to an inability to quantify posthospital care delivered to patients at locations other than the surgical hospital. In order to circumvent this issue, information can be sought directly from patients about posthospital health care utilization. This approach provides a more complete record in comparison with methods that evaluate complications treated only at the surgical hospital.

Methods: Participants undergoing total joint replacement (TJR) between 5/10/11 and 5/17/11 were identified from the Function and Outcomes Research in Comparative Effectiveness Registry (FORCE-TJR) cohort. The cohort is a nationally representative sample of TJR patients undergoing total knee replacement and total hip replacement. Patients are asked to self-report complications on the six-month follow-up questionnaire. The questionnaire specifically inquires about any emergency department visit, outpatient surgery, or hospital admission that occurred within six months of the total joint replacement surgery. For each positive report of postoperative complication, the pertinent medical records are retrieved and reviewed and discharge diagnoses are used to identify whether the complication is a surgical site symptom or a medical complication. The location of the care is identified as the surgical hospital or an outside hospital. We report on the location of all readmissions within 30 days of discharge from the initial TJR surgery.

Results: In total, our sample yielded 112 validated patient-reported readmissions following TJR. Of these readmissions, 75% were treated at the surgical hospital and 25% were treated at an outside hospital. Patients receiving care at the surgical hospital were similar in terms of demographics compared with those seeking care at an outside hospital in terms of mean age (66.7 years vs. 66.9 years, p=0.92), and gender (67.9% male vs. 63.1% male, p=0.65). Additionally, the mean number of days since discharge was similar (16.7 days vs. 15.1 days, p = 0.45) among patients treated at the surgical hospital compared with those treated at an outside hospital. Discharge diagnoses varied by the location of care. At the surgical hospital, discharge diagnoses identified surgical site symptoms as the cause of 36.9% of admissions and medical conditions as the cause of 63.1% of admissions. When compared with discharge diagnoses at outside hospitals, surgical site symptoms accounted for 17.9% of admissions and medical conditions for 82.1% (p=0.067).

Conclusion: Public reporting of all post-TJR discharge complications is currently used to compare quality of care between hospitals. However, our study demonstrates that hospitals and surgeons may underestimate their complication rates by 25%. This suggests that novel approaches, such as direct to patient contact, are needed to minimize missing post-hospital event data.


total joint replacement (TJR), post-hospital complications, hospital readmissions

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Journal/Book/Conference Title

2015 Senior Scholars Program Poster Presentation Day


Poster presented on Senior Scholars Presentation Day at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, on April 29, 2015. Medical student Matthew Sloan participated in this study as part of the Senior Scholars research program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.