Reducing post-operative length of stay, is it worth the effort?

Document Type





Background: Studies show that reducing the length of hospital stay (LOS) for surgical patients leads to cost savings. We hypothesize that LOS has a nonlinear relationship to cost of care and reduction may not have a meaningful impact on it. We have attempted to define the relationship of LOS to cost of care. We utilized the itemized bill, generated in real time, for hospital services.
Materials: Adult patients admitted under General, Neuro, and Orthopedic surgery over a 3-month period, with an LOS between 4 and 14 days, were the study population. Itemized bill details were analyzed. Charges in Pakistani rupees were converted to US dollar. Ethical exemption for study was obtained.
Results: Of the 853 patients, 38% were admitted to General Surgery, 27% to Neurosurgery, and 35% to Orthopedics. A total of 64% of the patients had an LOS between 4 and 6 days; 36% had an LOS between 7 and 14 days. Operated and conservatively managed constituted 82% and 18%, respectively. Mean total charge for operated patients was higher $3387 versus $1347 for non-operated ones. LOS was seen to have a nonlinear relationship to in-hospital cost of care. The bulk of cost was centered on the day of surgery. This was consistent across all services. The last day of stay contributed 2.4%-3.2% of total charge.
Conclusions: For surgical patients, the cost implications rapidly taper in the postoperative period. The contribution of the last day of stay cost to total cost is small. For meaningful cost containment, focus needs to be on the immediate perioperative period.


Volume, issue and pagination are not provided by the author/publisher.

Publication (Name of Journal)

World Journal of Surgery