Does patient selection help lower outpatient spine surgery costs? 5 study findings

As more spine surgeries transition to the outpatient setting, surgeons and researchers continue to study the cost differences between inpatient and outpatient procedures.

A study in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine researched how patient selection reduced or raised the cost of outpatient spine surgery. Researchers analyzed 16 studies with a total of 370,195 patients who underwent anterior cervical discectomy and fusion and lumbar laminectomy in the outpatient or inpatient setting.

Here are five study findings:

1. Outpatient surgery was more associated with younger patients who were not diagnosed with diabetes.

2. Patients who underwent outpatient surgery also experienced lower reoperation, 30-day readmission and complication rates.

3. Outpatient spine surgery also resulted in lower overall costs.

4. Younger patients saved $555 when undergoing outpatient surgery while older patients typically saved $7,290.

5. After examining the national administrative data, researchers found more modest cost savings for outpatient spine surgery over inpatient spine surgery.

"Compared to inpatient spine surgery, outpatient spine surgery was associated with better short-term outcomes and an initial reduction in direct costs," study authors concluded. "A selection bias for outpatient procedures toward young, healthier patients may confound these results."

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