Fast track pathway provides safe, value based care on busy acute care surgery service

Kali Kuhlenschmidt, Natasha Houshmand, Erika Bisgaard, Paul Comish, Stephen S. Luk, Joseph P. Minei, Michael W Cripps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Fast track (FT) pathways have been adopted across a multitude of elective surgeries but have been slow to be adopted into the acute care surgery realm. We hypothesized that an FT pathway for acute cholecystitis patients would decrease patient length of stay and resource utilization. METHODS: All patients at two hospitals, one with an FT pathway and one with a traditional pathway, who underwent an urgent laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis between May 1, 2019, and October 31, 2019, were queried using CPT codes. Exclusion criteria were conversion to open or partial cholecystectomy. Retrospective chart review was used to gather demographics, operative, hospital course, and outcomes. Time to operating room, hospital length of stay, and resource utilization were the primary outcomes. RESULTS: There was a total of 479 urgent laparoscopic cholecystectomies performed, 430 (89.8%) were performed under the FT pathway. The median (interquartile range [IQR]) time to the operating room was not different: 14.1 hours (IQR, 8.3-29.0 hours) for FT and 18.5 hours (IQR, 11.9-25.9 hours) for traditional (p = 0.316). However, the median length of stay was shorter by 15.9 hours in the FT cohort (22.6 hours; IQR, 14.2-40.4 hours vs. 38.5 hours; IQR, 28.3-56.3 hours; p < 0.001). Under the FT pathway, 33.0% of patients were admitted to the hospital and 75.6% were discharged from the postanesthesia care unit, compared with 91.8% and 12.2% on the traditional pathway (both p < 0.001). There were 59.6% of the FT patients that received a phone call follow up, as opposed to 100% of the traditional patients having clinic follow up (p < 0.001). The emergency department bounce back rate, readmission rates, and complication rates were similar (p > 0.2 for all). On multivariate analysis, having a FT pathway was an independent predictor of discharge within 24 hours of surgical consultation (odds ratio, 7.65; 95% confidence interval< 2.90-20.15; p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Use of a FT program for patients with acute cholecystitis has a significant positive impact on resource utilization without compromise of clinical outcomes. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic/care management, level IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-420
Number of pages6
JournalThe journal of trauma and acute care surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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