According to a new analysis, the healthcare system is losing millions of dollars due to unnecessary x-rays following total knee replacement surgery.
Experts from The Knee wrote that performing radiographs after surgery is common; however, there is not a lot of data supporting their usefulness.
To better understand, Brigham and Women’s scientists examined specific data for two level one trauma centers. The results showed that nearly 100 percent of scans that took place after total knee arthroplasty had zero impact on medical intervention following the procedure.
Despite not having any effect on clinical management, these routine x-rays cost roughly $1 million and exposed patients to 22.92 mSV of radiation for apparently no reason.
Aseal Birir, an MD candidate at Harvard Medical School, one of the co-authors, wrote, “Since the majority of postoperative radiographs didn’t change clinical management and constituted a significant portion of follow-up care costs, methods to circumscribe unnecessary postoperative radiographs may be an effective cost-saving alternative, while simultaneously increasing the quality of TKA follow-up care by limiting radiographs to nonroutine follow-up visits.”
Adult patients who underwent knee replacement surgery within two different hospitals in 2014 were analyzed. With an average age of 72, a total of 1,258 patients met the study’s criteria. The cost of the average Medicare reimbursement averaged roughly $282 each.
The authors stated, “Further work developing evidence-based guidelines using nonroutine visits for determining the appropriateness of radiographs after primary TKA may be helpful to limit healthcare spending and support virtual postoperative visits after TKA.”
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