URMC Joins National Effort to Set Joint Replacement Quality Guidelines

URMC’s Orthopaedics Department is teaming up with top academic medical centers in a $12 million effort to build a national registry for total joint replacement surgery outcomes. This database will help orthopaedic surgeons around the country improve care and make health policy decisions.

Over the past decade, the rising obesity rate and aging of baby boomers has driven demand for total joint replacement procedures to combat excruciating arthritis pain. Yet, as more than 700,000 people go under the knife each year, doctors are without patient-centered outcomes research to show how the surgery impacts the quality of life for patients.

The URMC team, led by Orthopaedics Chair Regis J. O’Keefe, M.D., Ph.D., and Stephen Kates, M.D., associate professor, is collaborating with peers at University of Massachusetts, University of Maryland and Baylor University as well as more than 130 private orthopedic surgeons to create the National Orthopaedic Outcome Registry, which will include more than 33,000 patients.

The four-year grant is from the Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and is the largest grant the Medical Center has been awarded from the federal agency charged with improving health care.

“We will lead the nation in setting policy and standards of care and determining how joint replacement care should be done in the United States and how we can improve our patients’ quality of life,” O’Keefe said. “This grant came after a highly competitive process and it clearly recognizes the caliber of science that is under way at our institution.”

The limited research available today shows wide variations in doctors’ decisions about when and how to replace joints and broad differences in patients’ mobility and pain levels following surgery. Current data is limited to patients who receive Medicare coverage and the new registry will provide diverse information from all geographic regions of the country and a variety of clinical settings to assess outcomes and quality measures.

This research project includes analysis of complication rates following surgery, creation of tools to determine success and failure, racial and ethnic disparities in total joint replacement procedures, and costs throughout the nation.

URMC’s Orthopaedics Department has conducted the most NIH-funded research in the country in the past four years. In conjunction with the Evarts Joint Center at Highland Hospital, the expert team leads the region in joint replacements and pain management programs for people with arthritis.

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