Impact of treatment with liposomal bupivacaine on hospital costs, length of stay, and discharge status in patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty at high-use institutions

Postsurgical pain experienced by patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty (TKA) can be severe. Enhanced recovery after surgery programs incorporating multimodal analgesic regimens have evolved in an attempt to improve patient care while lowering overall costs. We examined clinical and economic outcomes in hospitals using liposomal bupivacaine (LB) for pain control following TKA. 

This retrospective observational study utilized hospital chargemaster data from the Premier Healthcare Database from January 2011 through April 2017 for the 10 hospitals with the highest number of primary TKA procedures using LB. Within these hospitals, patients undergoing TKA who received LB were propensity-score matched in a 1:1 ratio to a control group not receiving LB. Outcomes included hospital length of stay (LOS), discharge status, 30-day same-hospital readmissions, total hospitalization costs, and opioid consumption; only patients with Medicare or commercial insurance as the primary payer for TKA were considered. 

The study population included 20,907 Medicare-insured patients (LB =10,411; control =10,496) and 12,505 patients with commercial insurance (LB =6242; control =6263). Overall, LOS was 0.6 days shorter with LB (P < 0.0001), and patients who received LB were 1.6 times more likely to be discharged home (P < 0.0001). Total hospitalization costs for the TKA procedure were lower with LB for patients with both Medicare (-$616; P < 0.0001) and commercial insurance (-$775; P < 0.0001). Opioid consumption was lower with LB in both payer populations (P < 0.0001). No significant differences for 30-day readmissions were found. 

Costs were estimated using Premier charge-to-cost ratios and limited to goods and services recorded in the chargemaster. Findings from these 10 hospitals may not be representative of other US hospitals. 

In a subset of 10 US hospitals with the highest use of LB for TKA, LB use was associated with shorter hospital LOS, increased home discharge, lower total hospitalization costs, and decreased opioid use after TKA.