Reduced length of stay after implementation of a clinical pathway following repair of ventricular septal defect


Advocate Children's Hospital


Background: There is variation in care and hospital length of stay following surgical repair of ventricular septal defects. The use of clinical pathways in a variety of paediatric care settings has been shown to reduce practice variability and overall length of stay without increasing the rate of adverse events.

Methods: A clinical pathway was created and used to guide care following surgical repair of ventricular septal defects. A retrospective review was done to compare patients two years prior and three years after the pathway was implemented.

Results: There were 23 pre-pathway patients and 25 pathway patients. Demographic characteristics were similar between groups. Univariate analysis demonstrated a significantly shorter time to initiation of enteral intake in the pathway patients (median time to first enteral intake after cardiac ICU admission was 360 minutes in pre-pathway patients and 180 minutes in pathway patients, p < 0.01). Multivariate regression analyses demonstrated that the pathway use was independently associated with a decrease in time to first enteral intake (-203 minutes), hospital length of stay (-23.1 hours), and cardiac ICU length of stay (-20.5 hours). No adverse events were associated with the use of the pathway, including mortality, reintubation rate, acute kidney injury, increased bleeding from chest tube, or readmissions.

Conclusions: The use of the clinical pathway improved time to initiation of enteral intake and decreased length of hospital stay. Surgery-specific pathways may decrease variability in care while also improving quality metrics.



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