Which patients require more care after hospital discharge? an analysis of post-acute care use among elderly patients undergoing elective surgery

Greg D. Sacks, Elise H. Lawson, Aaron J. Dawes, Melinda M. Gibbons, David S. Zingmond, Clifford Y. Ko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background The use of post-acute care is common among the elderly and accounts for $62 billion in annual Medicare expenditures. However, little is known about post-acute care use after surgery. Study Design Data were merged between the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS-NSQIP) and Medicare claims for 2005 to 2008. Post-acute care use, including skilled nursing facilities (SNF), inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRF), and home health care (HHC) were analyzed for 3 operations: colectomy, pancreatectomy, and open abdominal aortic aneurysm repair. Controlling for both preoperative risk factors and the occurrence of postoperative complications, we used multinomial logistic regression to estimate the odds of use for each type of post-acute care after elective surgery compared with home discharge. Results Post-acute care was used frequently for patients undergoing colectomy (40.0%; total n = 10,932), pancreatectomy (46.0%; total n = 2,144), and open abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair (44.9%; total n = 1,736). Home health was the most frequently reported post-acute care service for each operation (range 23.2% to 31.5%) followed by SNF (range 12.0% to 15.0%), and then by IRF (range 2.5% to 5.4%). The majority of patients with at least 1 inpatient complication were discharged to post-acute care (range 58.6% for open AAA repair to 64.4% for colectomy). In multivariable analysis, specific preoperative risk factors, including advanced age, poor functional status, and inpatient complications were significantly associated with increased risk-adjusted odds of discharge to post-acute care for each operation studied. Conclusions Among elderly patients, post-acute care use is frequent after surgery and is significantly associated with several preoperative risk factors and postoperative inpatient complications. Further work is needed to ensure that post-acute care services are used appropriately and cost-effectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1113-1121.e2
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support: Drs Sacks and Dawes were supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars program at the University of California, Los Angeles (RWJ Grants #71897 and #70989).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American College of Surgeons.


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