Variability in discharge disposition across US trauma centers after treatment for high-energy lower extremity injuries

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Objective: To evaluate the association between patient- and center-level characteristics and discharge to an inpatient facility versus home after treatment for lower extremity trauma, as well as examine the variability in discharge disposition across clinical centers after controlling for these factors. Design: This is an analysis of data collected prospectively across 5 multicenter studies of extremity trauma. Setting: US Trauma Centers. Participants: Patients 18–80 years with lower extremity trauma treated at 1 of 55 participating centers. Main Outcome Measure: Discharge disposition. Results: Among 2365 patients treated at 1 of 55 centers across 13 states, 673 (28.5%) were discharged to an inpatient facility, and 1692 (71.5%) were discharged home. Individuals who were older, female, unmarried, insured, higher body mass index, history of severe alcohol abuse, Gustilo type IIIB or IIIC open injuries, bilateral, spine and upper extremity injuries, higher injury severity score scores, or intensive care unit stay were more likely to be discharged to an inpatient facility. Even after accounting for patient- and center-level characteristics, there was substantial variation in discharge disposition across centers (likelihood ratio test: P, 0.001). Conclusion: Variation in discharge disposition may represent a potential for improvement in resource utilization and cost savings. Further studies are needed to examine the relationship between utilization of postdischarge inpatient facility after trauma and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E78-E85
JournalJournal of orthopaedic trauma
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Discharge disposition
  • High-energy trauma
  • Rehabilitation
  • Resource utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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