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J Arthroplasty. 2018 Jun;33(6):1675-1680. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2018.01.038. Epub 2018 Jan 31.

Implementation of a Total Hip Arthroplasty Care Pathway at a High-Volume Health System: Effect on Length of Stay, Discharge Disposition, and 90-Day Complications.

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Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Cleveland, OH.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH.
Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH.



Standardized care pathways are evidence-based algorithms for optimizing an episode of care. Despite the theoretical promise of care pathways, there is an inconsistent literature demonstrating improvements in patient care. The authors hypothesized that implementing a care pathway, across 11 hospitals, would decrease hospital length of stay (LOS), decrease postoperative complications at 90 days, and increase discharges to home.


A multidisciplinary team developed an evidence-based care pathway for total hip arthroplasty (THA) perioperative care. All patients receiving THA in 2013 (pre-protocol, historical control), 2014 (transition), and 2015 (full protocol implementation) were included in the analysis. Multivariable regression assessed the relationship of the care pathway to 90-day postoperative complications, LOS, and discharge disposition. Cost savings were estimated using previously published postarthroplasty episode and per diem hospital costs.


A total of 6090 primary THAs were conducted during the study period. After adjusting for the covariates, the full protocol implementation was associated with a decrease in LOS (mean ratio, 0.747; 95% confidence interval [CI; 0.727, 0.767]) and an increase in discharges to home (odds ratio, 2.079; 95% CI [1.762, 2.456]). The full protocol implementation was not associated with a change in 90-day complications (odds ratio, 1.023; 95% CI [0.841, 1.245]). Payer-perspective-calculated theoretical cost savings, including both index admission and postdischarge costs, were $2533 per patient.


The THA care pathway implementation was successful in reducing LOS and increasing discharges to home. The care pathway was not associated with a change in 90-day complications; further targeted interventions in this area are needed. Despite care standardization efforts, high-volume hospitals and surgeons had higher performance. Extrapolation of theoretical cost savings indicates that widespread THA care pathway adoption could lead to national healthcare savings of $1.2 billion annually.


care pathways; cost reduction; quality improvement; standardized care protocols; total hip arthroplasty; value-based care

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