Optimizing patient discharge after surgery has been shown to impact patient recovery and hospital/physician workflow and to reduce healthcare costs. In the current study, the authors sought to identify risk factors for nonroutine discharge after surgery for cervical myelopathy by using a national spine registry.
The Quality Outcomes Database cervical module was queried for patients who had undergone surgery for cervical myelopathy between 2016 and 2018. Nonroutine discharge was defined as discharge to postacute care (rehabilitation), nonacute care, or another acute care hospital. A multivariable logistic regression predictive model was created using an array of demographic, clinical, operative, and patient-reported outcome characteristics.
Of the 1114 patients identified, 11.2% (n = 125) had a nonroutine discharge. On univariate analysis, patients with a nonroutine discharge were more likely to be older (age ≥ 65 years, 70.4% vs 35.8%, p < 0.001), African American (24.8% vs 13.9%, p = 0.007), and on Medicare (75.2% vs 35.1%, p < 0.001). Among the patients younger than 65 years of age, those who had a nonroutine discharge were more likely to be unemployed (70.3% vs 36.9%, p < 0.001). Overall, patients with a nonroutine discharge were more likely to present with a motor deficit (73.6% vs 58.7%, p = 0.001) and more likely to have nonindependent ambulation (50.4% vs 14.0%, p < 0.001) at presentation. On multivariable logistic regression, factors associated with higher odds of a nonroutine discharge included African American race (vs White, OR 2.76, 95% CI 1.38–5.51, p = 0.004), Medicare coverage (vs private insurance, OR 2.14, 95% CI 1.00–4.65, p = 0.04), nonindependent ambulation at presentation (OR 2.17, 95% CI 1.17–4.02, p = 0.01), baseline modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association severe myelopathy score (0–11 vs moderate 12–14, OR 2, 95% CI 1.07–3.73, p = 0.01), and posterior surgical approach (OR 11.6, 95% CI 2.12–48, p = 0.004). Factors associated with lower odds of a nonroutine discharge included fewer operated levels (1 vs 2–3 levels, OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.1–0.96, p = 0.009) and a higher quality of life at baseline (EQ-5D score, OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.25–0.73, p = 0.001). On predictor importance analysis, baseline quality of life (EQ-5D score) was identified as the most important predictor (Wald χ2 = 9.8, p = 0.001) of a nonroutine discharge; however, after grouping variables into distinct categories, socioeconomic and demographic characteristics (age, race, gender, insurance status, employment status) were identified as the most significant drivers of nonroutine discharge (28.4% of total predictor importance).
The study results indicate that socioeconomic and demographic characteristics including age, race, gender, insurance, and employment may be the most significant drivers of a nonroutine discharge after surgery for cervical myelopathy.