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Decreasing ICU and Hospital Length of Stay through a Standardized Respiratory Therapist-driven Electronic Clinical Care Pathway for Status Asthmaticus.

INTRODUCTION: Status asthmaticus (SA) is a cause of many pediatric hospitalizations. This study sought to evaluate how a standardized asthma care pathway (ACP) in the electronic medical record impacted the length of stay (LOS).

METHODS: An interdisciplinary team internally validated a standardized respiratory score for patients admitted with SA to a 25-bed pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at a tertiary children's hospital. The respiratory score determined weaning schedules for albuterol and steroid therapies. In addition, pharmacy and information technology staff developed an electronic ACP within our electronic medical record system using best practice alerts. These best practice alerts informed staff to initiate the pathway, wean/escalate treatment, transition to oral steroids, transfer level of care, and complete discharge education. The PICU, stepdown ICU (SD ICU), and acute care units implemented the clinical pathway. Pre- and postintervention metrics were assessed using process control charts and compared using Welch's t tests with a significance level of 0.05.

RESULTS: Nine hundred two consecutive patients were analyzed (598 preintervention, 304 postintervention). Order set utilization significantly increased from 68% to 97% ( P < 0.001), PICU LOS decreased from 38.4 to 31.1 hours ( P = 0.013), and stepdown ICU LOS decreased from 25.7 to 20.9 hours ( P = 0.01). Hospital LOS decreased from 59.5 to 50.7 hours ( P = 0.003), with cost savings of $1,215,088 for the patient cohort.

CONCLUSIONS: Implementing a standardized respiratory therapist-driven ACP for children with SA led to significantly increased order set utilization and decreased ICU and hospital LOS. Leveraging information technology and standardized pathways may improve care quality, outcomes, and costs for other common diagnoses.

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