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Surgery. 2003 Mar;133(3):277-82.

Shortened length of stay and hospital cost reduction with implementation of an accelerated clinical care pathway after elective colon resection.

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Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114, USA.



Patient care pathways have been developed for operative procedures with documented improvements in length of stay and cost without compromising outcome. The average hospital stay after colonic resection is 5 to 10 days. This study describes a clinical pathway for colon resections and examines patient outcome before and after institution of the pathway.


One hundred thirty-eight patients underwent elective colon resections at our institution by a single surgeon before (n = 52) and after (n = 86) introduction of a clinical pathway. Length of stay, postoperative complications, readmissions, and cost per patient were compared between the 2 groups.


Mean total length of stay (+/- standard deviation [SD]) was less in the postclinical pathway patients (3.7 +/- 1.5 days) compared to preclinical pathway patients (6.6 +/- 3.3 days) (P <.001). When adjusted for age, sex, diagnosis, and type of operation, the difference in length of stay remains statistically significant (P <.001). There was 1 readmission in the prepathway group and 8 readmissions in the postpathway group. When the readmissions were added to the original admissions, the mean length of stay in the postpathway patients was 4.2 +/- 2.8 days and in the prepathway patients was 6.9 +/- 4.1 days (P <.001). The average cost per patient (+/- standard error of the mean), with readmission costs added, was 9310 +/- 5170 US dollars in the prepathway group and 7070 +/- 3670 US dollars in the postpathway group (P =.002).


The institution of a clinical pathway for elective, open colon resections can be done safely with improvements in cost and length of stay.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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