Joint Replacement Patients Can Skip Post-Acute Inpatient Care

Instead of heading to inpatient rehabilitation after a joint replacement surgery, most patients can be sent directly home even if they live alone, according to a recent study published in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

The study looked at 910 consecutive patients undergoing primary, unilateral total hip arthroplasty or total knee arthroplasty over an eight-month period. Only 4%, or 36 patients, were discharged to a rehabilitation facility, while 96%, or 871 patients, were discharged directly home. Of the patients who were sent home and included in final analysis, 138 lived alone.

Patients who were sent home and lived alone saw no increase in complications or unplanned clinical events, according to the study. This group was more likely to stay an additional night in the hospital and utilize more home health services. Furthermore, there were no significant differences in functional outcomes or pain relief detected between the groups, and satisfaction scores were equivalent after 90 days, the study found.


The results underscore that home health care services can provide comparable care to inpatient facilities for a fraction of the cost. The study also bucks the conventional wisdom that patients living alone are not safe to go directly home after the surgical procedure.

“The substantial post-discharge costs for inpatient rehabilitation, sixfold greater than those for home discharge, cannot be ignored,” the study concludes.

Written by Amy Baxter


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