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OBJECTIVES: To measure changes in length of stay following total knee and hip replacement (TKR and THR) between 1997 and 2014 and estimate the impact on hospital reimbursement, all else being equal. Further, to assess the degree to which observed trends can be explained by improved efficiency or changes in patient profiles. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using routinely collected data. SETTING: National Health Service primary care records from 1995 to 2014 in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink were linked to hospital inpatient data from 1997 to 2014 in Hospital Episode Statistics Admitted Patient Care. PARTICIPANTS: Study participants had a diagnosis of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. INTERVENTIONS: Primary TKR, primary THR, revision TKR and revision THR. PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Length of stay and hospital reimbursement. RESULTS: 10 260 primary TKR, 10 961 primary THR, 505 revision TKR and 633 revision THR were included. Expected length of stay fell from 16.0 days (95% CI 14.9 to 17.2) in 1997 to 5.4 (5.2 to 5.6) in 2014 for primary TKR and from 14.4 (13.7 to 15.0) to 5.6 (5.4 to 5.8) for primary THR, leading to savings of £1537 and £1412, respectively. Length of stay fell from 29.8 (17.5 to 50.5) to 11.0 (8.3 to 14.6) for revision TKR and from 18.3 (11.6 to 28.9) to 12.5 (9.3 to 16.8) for revision THR, but no significant reduction in reimbursement was estimated. The estimated effect of year of surgery remained similar when patient characteristics were included. CONCLUSIONS: Length of stay for joint replacement fell substantially from 1997 to 2014. These reductions have translated into substantial savings. While patient characteristics affect length of stay and reimbursement, patient profiles have remained broadly stable over time. The observed reductions appear to be mostly explained by improved efficiency.

Original publication




Journal article


Bmj open

Publication Date





costs, hip arthroplasty, joint replacement, knee arthroplasty, length of stay, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip, Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee, Cross-Sectional Studies, England, Female, Hip Joint, Hospital Costs, Hospital Records, Hospitals, Humans, Insurance, Health, Reimbursement, Knee Joint, Length of Stay, Male, Middle Aged, Osteoarthritis, Osteoarthritis, Hip, Osteoarthritis, Knee, Primary Health Care, State Medicine