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Physician-Perceived Barriers to Adopting a Critical Pathway for Community-Acquired Pneumonia

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Background: A proven efficacious and evidencebased critical pathway for community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) was implemented in six hospitals across a health service region (Edmonton, Canada). After one year (November 2000–November 2001), the pathway had reduced average length of stay by 1 day (from 10.8 to 9.8 days, p < .001). However, great variation was observed in physician adherence to the pathway.

Methods: Physician-perceived barriers to adoption of the CAP pathway were identified through in-depth interviews. Data saturation was reached after 10 physicians, representing a convenience sample of those willing to participate, were interviewed.

Results: Self-reported adherence to the CAP pathway was 75% (range 50%–100%). Qualitative analysis of the interview data indicated that comments could be grouped into five themes: (1) limited applicability, (2) lack of flexibility to accommodate atypical clinical presentations, (3) perception of insufficient evidence to support recommendations, (4) local organizational barriers, and (5) need for local adaptation. For example, one physician remarked that his community hospital had insufficient staff to support collection of lab samples for all patients.

Discussion: Interventions to increase pathway adoption and further improve quality of CAP care should address the identified barriers. For example, local audit and feedback of outcomes data to persuade physicians of the benefits of CAP pathways will need to be instituted.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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