Unexpected nonhome discharge causes additional costs in the current reimbursement models, especially to the payor. Nonhome discharge is also related to longer length of hospital stay and therefore higher healthcare costs to society. With increasing demand for spine surgery, it is important to minimize costs by streamlining discharges and reducing length of hospital stay. Identifying factors associated with nonhome discharge can be useful for early intervention for discharge planning. The authors aimed to identify the drivers of nonhome discharge in patients undergoing 1- or 2-level instrumented lumbar fusion.
The electronic medical records from a single-center hospital administrative database were analyzed for consecutive patients who underwent 1- to 2-level instrumented lumbar fusion for degenerative lumbar conditions during the period from 2016 to 2018. Discharge disposition was determined as home or nonhome. A logistic regression analysis was used to determine associations between nonhome discharge and age, sex, body mass index (BMI), race, American Society of Anesthesiologists grade, smoking status, marital status, insurance type, residence in an underserved zip code, and operative factors.
A total of 1502 patients were included. The majority (81%) were discharged home. Factors associated with a nonhome discharge were older age, higher BMI, living in an underserved zip code, not being married, being on government insurance, and having more levels fused. Patients discharged to a nonhome facility had longer lengths of hospital stay (5.6 vs 3.0 days, p < 0.001) and significantly increased hospital costs ($21,204 vs $17,518, p < 0.001).
Increased age, greater BMI, residence in an underserved zip code, not being married, and government insurance are drivers for discharge to a nonhome facility after a 1- to 2-level instrumented lumbar fusion. Early identification and intervention for these patients, even before admission, may decrease the length of hospital stay and medical costs.