OBJECTIVE Amid national and local budget crises, cutting costs while maintaining quality care is a top priority. Chiari malformation is a relatively common pediatric neurosurgical pathology, and postoperative care varies widely. The postoperative course can be complicated by pain and nausea, which can extend the hospital stay. In this study, the authors aimed to examine whether instituting a standardized postoperative care protocol would decrease overall patient hospital length of stay (LOS) as well as cost to families and the hospital system. METHODS A retrospective study of pediatric patients who underwent an intradural Chiari decompression with expansile duraplasty at a single institution from January 2016 to September 2019 was performed. A standardized postoperative care protocol was instituted on May 17, 2018. Pre- and postprotocol groups were primarily analyzed for demographics, LOS, and the estimated financial expense of the hospital stay. Secondary analysis included readmissions, opioid consumption, and follow-up. RESULTS The analysis included 132 pediatric patients who underwent an intradural Chiari decompression with expansile duraplasty. The preprotocol group included 97 patients and the postprotocol group included 35 patients. Patient age ranged from 0.5 to 26 years (mean 9.5 years). The mean LOS preprotocol was 55.48 hours (range 25.90–127.77 hours), and the mean postprotocol LOS was 46.39 hours (range 27.58–77.38 hours). The comparison between means showed a statistically significant decrease following protocol initiation (95% CI 1.87–16.31 hours, p = 0.014). In the preprotocol group, 21 of 97 patients (22%) were discharged the first day after surgery compared with 14 of 35 patients (40%) in the postprotocol group (p = 0.045). The estimated cost of one night on the pediatric neurosurgical intermediate ward was approximately $4500, which gives overall cost estimates for 100 theoretical cases of $927,800 for the preprotocol group and $732,900 for the postprotocol group. CONCLUSIONS By instituting a Chiari protocol, postoperative LOS was significantly decreased, which resulted in decreased healthcare costs while maintaining high-quality and safe care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Clinical Neurology