Outpatient clinics reduce ED visits after spine surgery: 5 key points

A new study published in Spine examines Tricare claims data to assess emergency department utilization rates for spine surgery interventions.


The study authors examined 30-and 90-day data for around 48,868 patients who underwent spine surgery from 2006 to 2014. Study authors found:

1. Around 15 percent of the patients who underwent spine surgery used the ED within 30 days of surgery; by 90 days after surgery, 29 percent of patients had presented in the ED.

2. The 30-day complication rate was 6 percent, which jumped to 8 percent by 90 days after surgery. Within 90 days of surgery, 29 percent of the patients sought ED care and one-third had complications, suggesting a high rate of unnecessary utilization.

3. There was a 5 percent readmission rate within 30 days of surgery and an 8 percent readmission rate within 90 days of surgery.

4. Patients who used outpatient spine clinic services had reduced likelihood of ED utilization at both 30 and 90 days after surgery.

5. Study authors concluded, "Outpatient utilization of spine clinics was the only factor independently associated with a reduced likelihood of ED utilization."

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