Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement Project for Suspected Appendicitis
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Introduction: Considerable variability exists in the diagnosis and management of acute appendicitis, affecting both quality and costs of care. This prospective cohort study aimed to decrease unnecessary radiological investigations, standardize radiological imaging, avoid unnecessary hospital admissions, and decrease our institution rate of negative appendectomy. Methods: A multidisciplinary appendicitis care pathway was implemented. This pathway involved the use of the Pediatric Appendicitis Score, standardization of ultrasound reporting, and risk stratification to determine patient disposition. Patients were prospectively enrolled in the pathway and compared a preimplementation retrospective cohort. Results: We included 235 patients in this study that took place between February 2017 and January 2018. An 88.5% pathway adherence rate for appropriate referral for ultrasounds, an 84% compliance rate for correct risk stratification, and the need for a surgical consult were achieved. After implementation, standardization of ultrasound (U/S) reporting increased from 0% to 78%. The rate of computed tomography utilization decreased from 7.3% to 4.7%. An appendectomy was completed in 68 (29%) of patients. There was only 1 (1.5%) negative appendectomy, compared to the prepathway institutional negative appendectomy rate of 4%. Conclusion: The implementation of a standardized, evidence-based, appendicitis care pathway has the potential to improve quality of care by reducing negative appendectomies, unnecessary computed tomography scans, and unnecessary hospital admissions. The participation of the emergency and diagnostic imaging departments is critical to the successful implementation of this quality improvement measure. This simple, effective model can be easily implemented at other centers to improve the care of children.