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Knee replacement patients need extra care to curb infections, readmissions

September 26, 2012
by pamela tabar
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Total knee replacements have seen a steadly increase over the past 20 years, both because of increased utilization and a surge in Medicare beneficiaries, according to the latest issue of the Journal of American Medical Association.

The comparative study examined more than 3 million total knee arthroplasty (TKA) procedures and about 318,000 revision TKAs billed under Medicare between 1991 and 2010.

The good news from the data: Hospital length-of-stay for total knee replacements has dropped from almost eight days to slightly over four days. The bad news: All-cause readmission rates have also risen, and so have infection rates.

Many seniors who undergo knee surgery will visit a rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility after discharge, making diligent care transitions and care during rehabilitation crucial to reducing surgical-site infections and readmissions.

About 600,000 TKAs are preformed in the United States each year, at an average cost of $15,000 each, the article states. 

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