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Impact of a Bronchiolitis Clinical Pathway on Management Decisions by Preferred Language.

BACKGROUND: Clinical pathways standardize healthcare utilization, but their impact on healthcare equity is poorly understood. This study aims to measure the effect of a bronchiolitis pathway on management decisions by preferred language for care.

METHODS: We included all emergency department encounters for patients aged 1-12 months with bronchiolitis from 1/1/2010 to 10/31/2020. The prepathway period ended 10/31/2011, and the postpathway period was 1/1/2012-10/31/2020. We performed retrospective interrupted time series analyses to assess the impact of the clinical pathway by English versus non-English preferred language on the following outcomes: chest radiography (CXR), albuterol use, 7-day return visit, 72-hour return to admission, antibiotic use, and corticosteroid use. Analyses were adjusted for presence of a complex chronic condition.

RESULTS: There were 1485 encounters in the preperiod (77% English, 14% non-English, 8% missing) and 7840 encounters in the postperiod (79% English, 15% non-English, 6% missing). CXR, antibiotic, and albuterol utilization exhibited sustained decreases over the study period. Pathway impact did not differ by preferred language for any outcome except albuterol utilization. The prepost slope effect of albuterol utilization was 10% greater in the non-English versus the English group (p for the difference by language = 0.022).

CONCLUSIONS: A clinical pathway was associated with improvements in care regardless of preferred language. More extensive studies involving multiple pathways and care settings are needed to assess the impact of clinical pathways on health equity.

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