Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Shoulder Arthroplasty: Surgical Trends and Post-Operative Care Pathway Analysis

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Journal of shoulder and elbow surgery


INTRODUCTION: COVID-19 triggered disruption in the conventional care pathways for many orthopedic procedures. The current study aims to quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on shoulder arthroplasty hospital surgical volume, trends in surgical case distribution, length of hospitalization, post-hospital disposition, and 30-day readmission rates.

METHODS: This study queried all Medicare (100% sample) fee-for-service beneficiaries who underwent a shoulder arthroplasty procedure (DRG 483, CPT 23472) from January 1, 2019 to December 18, 2020. Fracture cases were separated from non-fracture cases, which were further subdivided into anatomic or reverse arthroplasty. Volume per 1000 Medicare beneficiaries was calculated from April to December 2020 and compared to the same months in 2019. Length of stay (LOS), discharged-home rate, and 30-day readmission for the same period were obtained. The yearly difference adjusted for age, sex, race (white vs. non-white), CMS-Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCC) risk score, month fixed effects, and Core-based Statistical Area (CBSA) fixed effects, with standard errors clustered at the provider level was calculated using a multivariate analysis (p < 0.05).

RESULTS: 49,412 and 41,554 TSA cases were observed April through December for 2019 and 2020, respectively. There was an overall decrease in shoulder arthroplasty volume per 1000 Medicare beneficiaries by 14% (19% reduction in anatomic TSA, 13% reduction in RTSA, and 3% reduction in fracture cases). LOS for all shoulder arthroplasty cases decreased by 16% (-0.27 days, p< 0.001) when adjusted for confounders. There was a 5% increase in the discharge-home rate (88.0% to 92.7%, p<0.001); most prominent in fracture cases with a 20% increase in discharged-home cases (65.0% to 73.4%, p<0.001). There was no significant change in 30-day hospital readmission rates overall (p = 0.20) or when broken down by individual procedures.

CONCLUSIONS: There was an overall decrease in shoulder arthroplasty volume per 1000 Medicare beneficiaries by 14% during the COVID-19 pandemic. A decrease in LOS and increase in the discharged-home rates was also observed with no significant change in 30-day hospital readmission, indicating that a shift towards an outpatient surgical model can be performed safely, efficiently and has potential to provide value.

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ePub ahead of print