A clinical pathway for guardianship at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Link to article at PubMed

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A clinical pathway for guardianship at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2014 Sep;40(9):389-97

Authors: Chen JJ, Blanchard MA, Finn CT, Plunkett ML, Homa K, Fournier DA, Gregoire JF, Handley MM, Stedina EA, Suresh GK, Nugent WC

BACKGROUND: Guardianship may be necessary when inpatients lack medical decision-making capacity and are unwilling to go home to be cared for by interested proxy decision makers. Interventions, centered on a clinical pathway, were conducted at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC; Lebanon, New Hampshire). Because guardianship occurs at the interface of clinical care and governmental bureaucracy, quality improvement efforts focused on "in-hospital" processes, while actions were taken to improve communication between clinical teams and the legal system.
METHODS: A multidisciplinary quality improvement team mapped the DHMC guardianship process and analyzed the causes for delays before creating the clinical pathway. Specific interventions were designed and implemented to address the identified improvement areas.
RESULTS: For the 26 guardianship patients during a two-year period (May 1, 2011-May 1, 2013), the charges incurred totaled approximately $4,000,000--for an average of more than $150,000 per patient. The medically unnecessary days of their length of hospital stay decreased from an average of 27.8 to 11.3, a statistically significant result as demonstrated by statistical process control analysis. The shorter hospitalizations of the last 13 patients amounted to 214.5 medically unnecessary hospital days saved and more than $1.2 million in charges reduced during the two-year period.
CONCLUSIONS: Guardianship is a complex process that generates significant delays in appropriate care and increases in charges. The redesigned, standardized guardianship process, as defined in the clinical pathway, reduced associated medically unnecessary days of hospitalization.

PMID: 25252387 [PubMed - in process]

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