Medical College of Wisconsin
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Cost and utilization impact of a clinical pathway for patients undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy. Ann Surg Oncol 2000 Aug;7(7):484-9



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-0033850174 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   164 Citations


BACKGROUND: When implemented in several common surgical procedures, clinical pathways have been reported to reduce costs and resource utilization, while maintaining or improving patient care. However, there is little data to support their use in more complex surgery. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of clinical pathway implementation in patients undergoing elective pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD) on cost and resource utilization.

METHODS: Outcome data from before and after the development of a clinical pathway were analyzed. The clinical pathway standardized the preoperative outpatient care, critical care, and postoperative floor care of patients who underwent PD. An independent department determined total costs for each patient, which included all hospital and physician costs, in a blinded review. Outcomes that were examined included perioperative mortality, postoperative morbidity, length of stay, readmissions, and postoperative clinic visits.

RESULTS: From January, 1996 to December, 1998, 148 consecutive patients underwent PD or total pancreatectomy; 68 before pathway development (PrePath) and 80 after pathway implementation (PostPath). There were no significant differences in patient demographics, comorbid conditions, underlying diagnosis, or use of neoadjuvant therapy between the two groups. Mean total costs were significantly reduced in PostPath patients compared with PrePath patients ($36,627 vs. $47,515; P = .003). Similarly, mean length of hospital stay was also significantly reduced in PostPath patients (13.5 vs. 16.4 days; P = .001). The total cost differences could not be attributed solely to differences in room and board costs. Cost and length-of-stay differences remained when outliers were excluded from the analysis. Despite these findings, there were no significant differences between PrePath and PostPath patients in terms of perioperative mortality (3% vs. 1%), readmissions within 1 month of discharge (15% vs. 11%), or mean number of clinic visits within 90 days of discharge (3.3 vs. 3.4 visits).

CONCLUSIONS: The establishment of a clinical pathway for PD patients dramatically reduced costs and resource utilization without any apparent detrimental effect on quality of patient care. These findings support the implementation of clinical pathways for PD patients, as well as investigation into pathway care for other complex surgical procedures.

Author List

Porter GA, Pisters PW, Mansyur C, Bisanz A, Reyna K, Stanford P, Lee JE, Evans DB


Douglas B. Evans MD Chair, Professor in the Surgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Bile Duct Neoplasms
Cost Savings
Cost-Benefit Analysis
Critical Pathways
Duodenal Neoplasms
Health Services
Hospital Costs
Length of Stay
Middle Aged
Pancreatic Neoplasms
Patient Discharge
Prospective Studies