The usefulness of clinical pathways for the complex trauma patient is unclear. We analyzed the effect of a clinical pathway for severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) on resource utilization.A clinical pathway for severe TBI (Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score < or = 8 at 24 hours) was developed by a multidisciplinary team and used for all patients with severe TBI. Data were gathered prospectively for 15 months and compared with data from historical controls from the previous year. Patients who survived < 48 hours were excluded.The clinical pathway was used for 84 patients with severe TBI and compared with 49 historical controls. No differences in Injury Severity Scores (27 vs. 27) or GCS scores at 24 hours (6.2 vs. 6.5) existed between control or pathway patients. There was an overall increase in the mortality rate of pathway patients (from 12.2 to 21.4%), but this was entirely attributable to withdrawal of care that was initiated by family members in patients with an average age of 71 years, an average GCS score of 4.7, and an average Injury Severity Score of 29. Among survivors, pathway patients had a significant decrease in ventilator days (11.5 +/- 0.9 vs. 14.6 +/- 1.2; p < 0.05), intensive care unit days (16.7 +/- 1.0 vs. 21.2 +/- 1.4; p < 0.05), and hospital days (23.4 +/- 1.2 vs. 31.0 +/- 3.0; p < 0.05). There were no differences in the incidence of complications or functional outcomes.The use of a clinical pathway for severe TBI resulted in a significant reduction in resource utilization. This study suggests that clinical pathways may be a useful component of patient care after blunt trauma.
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View details for PubMedID 9680020