Background. Linking the process of evidence-based guidelines to outcomes is difficult. We hypothesized that the process of implementing an evidence-based clinical guideline for blunt splenic trauma would reduce resource consumption and improve outcome. Methods. Time periods were divided into period 1 (7/1/96-6/30/99) and period 2 (7/1/99-6/30/01). On 7/1/99 our American College of Surgeons-verified level I trauma center instituted an evidence-based approach for managing splenic trauma incorporating hemodynamic normality as the process measure triggering clinical decisions. Outcomes included the number of hemodynamically normal patients treated without operation, patient death, length of stay, and cost. Results. Two hundred thirty-one patients had blunt splenic injury; 115 patients were seen during period 1 and 116 during period 2. Hemodynamically normal patients undergoing splenectomy decreased during period 2 (P < .05). Median length of stay was 8 days in period 1 and 6 days in period 2 (P < .03). Cost per patient was $34,972 in period 1 and $24,037 in period 2 (P < .03). The mortality rate was unchanged. Conclusions. Compliance with evidence-based data in the management of blunt splenic injury improved rates of nonoperative management, decreased hospital days, and did not change mortality rates. An evidence-based clinical guideline evaluated with process measures can reduce resource use and improve outcome in a trauma program.
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