The Use and Modification of Clinical Pathways to Achieve Specific Outcomes in Bariatric Surgery

Yeats, Melania; Wedergren, Sue; Fox, Nicole; Thompson, Jon S.
February 2005
American Surgeon;Feb2005, Vol. 71 Issue 2, p152
Academic Journal
Clinical pathways are promoted for standardizing patient care and decreasing resource use without compromising outcome. Once established, we hypothesized that clinical pathways can then be used to modify patient care to achieve specific goals. Our aim was to evaluate a clinical pathway for the bariatric surgical patient that was initially designed to standardize care and later altered to modify the postoperative course. We retrospectively reviewed 150 consecutive patients undergoing open gastric bypass by a single surgeon. The first 50 patients were managed without a formal pathway, (group I). The next 50 were managed with a pathway that standardized care in order to reduce length of stay (LOS), (group II). For the final 50 patients, the pathway was modified to shorten nasogastric decompression time (group III). Patient information, blood loss (EBL), operative time, length of stay (LOS), nasogastric decompression, 30-day complication rates, and early readmissions were reviewed. The groups were similar with respect to gender, age, body mass index, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) classification, and EBL. Operative time was significantly less in groups II and III compared to group I (82% and 68% vs. 38% <180 minutes, P < 0.05). LOS was shorter in groups II and III compared to group I (62% and 42% vs. 20% with a 4-day LOS, P < 0.05). Duration of nasogastric tube decompression was successfully decreased in group III when compared to groups I and II (76% vs. 14% and 6% 1 day or less, P < 0.05). Complication rates were significantly lower in group III as well (14% vs. 36% and 28%, P < 0.05). Standardizing patient care with a clinical pathway decreases LOS after bariatric surgery. An established clinical pathway can then be used to further modify patient care in order to achieve specific goals, such as shortened time of nasogastric decompression. This goal was accomplished without compromising patient outcome.


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