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ANZ J Surg. 2004 Sep;74(9):754-9.

A 23-hour care centre model for the management of surgical patients.

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  • 1Division of Surgery, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



Much of the emphasis on gaining efficiencies in surgical care have, to date, focused on increasing day only (DO) facilities and increasing the utilization of day of surgery admissions (DOSA) for longer stay cases. However, for the majority of cases requiring surgery, both elective and acute, the episode of care can generally be delivered within an envelope of 23 h during which time patients require only pain relief and monitoring in a supervised setting until fit for discharge. The aim of the present study was to evaluate a pilot of a 23-h care centre at a principal referral hospital.


A 23-h care centre was established at a principal referral hospital in January 2003 in association with an existing DO and DOSA facility. All patients, both emergency and elective as well as surgical and medical, who fitted the following criteria were admitted as '23-h patients' to the centre: absolute expectation of discharge within 24 h; preadmission screening by a nurse screener (if elective); agreed clinical guidelines in place; agreement to protocol-based, nurse-initiated discharge. Outcomes were evaluated after 3 months. Existing admission criteria for DO and DOSA patients were maintained.


Over 3 months, 1601 patients utilized the 23-h care centre as follows: 593 DO patients, 410 DOSA patients and 598 23-h patients. Transfers from the emergency department constituted 47% of all 23-h patients. Utilization varied with the departments of hand surgery, ear, nose and throat/head and neck surgery, and gastrointestinal surgery all managing more than 55% of their operative workload as 23-h patients (excluding DO and DOSA patients). Excluding inappropriate admissions, overall discharge compliance was 83%. Three departments achieved the compliance benchmark of 90% of admitted patients discharged within 23 h. Only 1% of patients discharged required referral back to the emergency department, with a further 2% being reviewed by their general practitioner.


The 23-h care centre model, incorporating DO, DOSA and 23-h patients, offers a workable system of healthcare delivery for patients who do not require a prolonged stay in hospital including, potentially, the majority of surgical patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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