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What are the True Advantages of a Pediatric Appendicitis Clinical Pathway?

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Multiple protocols have been described for pediatric appendicitis, but few have been compared with off-protocol treatment. We performed such a comparison. Children treated for appendicitis by three pediatric surgeons over a 28-month period were studied. A protocol of primary wound closure without drains, standardized use of antibiotics, and patient discharge according to predetermined clinical criteria was compared with individualized drain use, antibiotic selection, and discharge timing. Three hundred ninety-seven children were treated, 43 per cent on pathway (Group I) and 57 per cent off pathway (Group II). The two groups showed similar incidence of acute (45% vs 46%), complicated (50% vs 49%), and normal (5%) appendix. Among patients with simple appendicitis, Group I had less postoperative antibiotic use (16% vs 80% P < 0.001), shorter hospital stays (1.44 vs 1.89 days, P = 0.001), and decreased hospital charges ($9,289 vs $10,751, P = 0.001). Among patients with complicated appendicitis, Group I had less drain placement (4% vs 27%, P < 0.001), less use of discharge antibiotics (13% vs 39%, P < 0.001), and no readmission (0% vs 5%, P = 0.05). Infectious complications were similar between the two groups. A clinical pathway decreases the use of unnecessary antibiotics, hospital stay, and charges for simple appendicitis. It decreases the use of unnecessary drains, and eliminates readmissions after complicated appendicitis.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: From the Division of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of California, Irvine Children's Hospital, Orange, California and Miller Children's Hospital, Long Beach, California

Publication date: October 1, 2006

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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