Canadian Journal of Surgery
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Background: In 2017, a provincial guideline was created to fast track and standardize care for pediatric appendicitis in Alberta. We conducted a study to determine the impact of implementation of the guideline at our institution on length of stay (LOS), antibiotic stewardship efforts and costs. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of the charts of all patients younger than 18 years of age who underwent appendectomy at our institution in 2 periods: before guideline implementation (Dec. 1, 2016, to May 31, 2017) and after implementation (Dec. 1, 2017, to May 31, 2018). We compared LOS, duration of antibiotic therapy, 30-day postdischarge complication rates and variable cost between the 2 cohorts. Results: Of the 276 total appendectomy procedures performed, 185 were for simple appendicitis (81 before guideline implementation and 104 after implementation), and 91 were for complicated appendicitis (44 and 47, respectively). The median LOS was shorter in the postimplementation cohort for both simple and complicated appendicitis (15.5 h [interquartile range (IQR) 12-19 h] v. 17.0 h [IQR 13-22 h], p = 0.03; and 3.0 d [IQR 2-4 d] v. 3.0 d [IQR 3-5 d], p = 0.05, respectively). Patients with complicated appendicitis had fewer antibiotic days after guideline implementation; the difference was statistically significant for patients without diffuse peritoneal contamination or abscess formation (p = 0.02). There were no differences between the cohorts with respect to 30-day rates of complications, including emergency department visits, readmission and surgical site infections. After guideline implementation, the average variable cost per patient was reduced by $230, equating to a total average annual cost savings of $75 842 for our institution. Conclusion: The implementation of a provincial guideline aimed at standardizing care in pediatric appendicitis at our institution was associated with shortened LOS, improved antibiotic stewardship efforts and reduced cost of care. Other institutions may replicate our model of a standardized pathway in the management of pediatric appendicitis in an effort to improve the quality of patient care and reduce health care costs.