Quantifying Surgeon Work in Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty: Where Do We Stand Today?


Physician work is a critical component in determining reimbursement for total joint arthroplasty (TJA). The purpose of this study is to quantify the time spent during the different phases of TJA care relative to the benchmarks used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


We retrospectively reviewed all patients captured in our institutional joint database between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2018. Four phases of care were assessed: (1) preoperative period following the decision to proceed with TJA and leading to the day before surgery, (2) immediate 24 hours preceding surgery (preservice time), (3) operative time from skin incision to dressing application (intraservice time), and (4) postoperative work including day of surgery and the following 90 days.


total of 666 procedures were analyzed (379 total hip arthroplasties and 287 total knee arthroplasties). The mean preoperative care coordination, preservice, intraservice, immediate postservice, and 91-day global period times were 21.9 ± 10, 84.1, 114 ± 24, 35, and 150 ± 37 minutes, respectively. Except for a slightly higher preoperative time associated with Medicare coverage (P = .031), there were no differences in the other phases of care by payer type. There were no temporal differences between 2014 and 2017. However, in 2018, there were significant increases in preoperative and intraservice times (6 and 20 minutes, respectively, P < .001) which were accompanied with a significant decrease in postoperative service time (34 minutes, P < .001).


Even when performing TJA under the most optimal conditions, the overall time has remained stable over the past 5 years and consistent with current benchmarks.

 2019 Dec 13. pii: S0883-5403(19)31138-6. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2019.12.006. [Epub ahead of print]