Clinical pathways have been used in surgeries since the 1980s, but their nature and usefulness are still subjects of much debate, especially as procedures such as hip and knee joint replacement represent a significant cost to hospitals. Now authors publishing in the open access journal BMC Medicine have concluded that using clinical pathways can effectively improve the quality of the care provided to patients undergoing joint replacement.
A research team from the University of Eastern Piedmont, the Catholic University Leuven, the University Politecnica delle Marche and the Sainte Rita Hospital Trust searched four databases (Medline, Cinahl, Embase and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) using relevant medical subject headings. The authors compared trials that contrasted the clinical pathways care with standard medical care whilst analysing at least one of the four possible clinical outcomes of postoperative complications, discharge to home, length of in-hospital stay (LOS) and direct costs.
The meta-analysis, covering 6,316 patients, showed that patients in the clinical pathways group had significantly lower levels of postoperative complications and significantly shorter hospital stays, which greatly contributed to lower hospital costs. The authors believe that these positive findings are a consequence of the care being better organised. Inappropriate care lengthens hospital stays and increases the risk of complications; clinical pathways have been shown to prevent inappropriate care and, thus, the cost to the hospital.
This new data provides policy makers with the evidence they need to evaluate the place of clinical pathways in JR. According to the authors, "With the need for knee and hip joint replacement on the rise, the use of clinical pathways might contribute to better quality of care and cost-effectiveness."
Notes to Editors
1. Effects of clinical pathways in the joint replacement: a meta-analysis
A Barbieri, K Vanhaecht, P Van Herck, W Sermeus, F Faggiano, S Marchisio and M Panella
BMC Medicine (in press)
During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/1943406572782814_article.pdf?random=368970
After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcmed/
Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.
Article citation and URL available on request at email@example.com on the day of publication.
2. BMC Medicine publishes original research articles, technical advances and study protocols in any area of medical science or clinical practice. To be appropriate for BMC Medicine, articles need to be of special importance and broad interest. BMC Medicine (ISSN 1741-7015) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.
3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.