The expectation for most patients choosing to go ahead with spine surgery in Los Angeles is that quality of life will be improved after the procedure. While many surgeries to correct problems with certain structures along the spine or with its supporting joints go off without any major issues, there are times when patients need to readmit themselves after their initial spine surgery.
Infections are the most common reason why patients readmit themselves following spine surgery. One study of a hospital’s administrative database of patient records over a two-year period found that 32 percent of unplanned readmissions were due to infection.
Lingering or Worsening Pain
Some pain following spine surgery is normal. If pain lingers or becomes worse, however, patients often readmit themselves or opt to have another surgery. A Chicago study found that pain ranked with infection as the most common reason for readmissions for lumbar decompression and fusion surgery.
Other than pain, complications following spine surgery may include a reduction in mobility that wasn’t expected or sudden instability in another area of the spine that was caused by the initial procedure. Readmissions may also occur due to:
- Nonsurgical complications
- Issues with movement
- Fear that recovery isn’t proceeding normally
- Wound drainage
More than half of all readmissions require a return to the operating room, with infection being the most common reason to revisit the surgical site. The estimated cost of readmissions is nearly $20 billion, according to one estimate. One study found that nearly 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were readmitted within 30 days of their procedure. Suggestions for how to reduce the number of post-surgery readmissions include:
- Improved patient education
- Better coordination with all members of a patient’s care team
- Added support from nurse practitioners and social workers to fully evaluate patients prior to surgery and monitor follow-up care
- Improved post-discharge management
The average length of a hospital stay for an unplanned readmission is nearly seven days. There is no specific correlation between certain procedures and readmissions, although a patient’s overall health prior to surgery and the complexity of the procedure itself can be contributing factors to post-surgery readmissions.
If you’ve tried conservative treatments but still experience significant lower and upper back pain, it’s time to meet with renowned spine surgeon Dr. Hyun Bae. Dr. Bae can help determine the root of your pain and discuss all possible treatment options. Call (310) 828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation.