Despite a strong national commitment to excellence in healthcare, the available resources are limited. Cardiac surgery consumes more healthcare resources than any other single treatment. It is imperative that healthcare professionals evaluate the traditional methods used to deliver quality care. Rapid recovery programs have been implemented in response to this challenge. The purpose of this article is to discuss development, implementation, and outcome evaluation of a rapid recovery program for cardiac surgery patients in a single health center. A multidisciplinary team examined care before, during, and after surgery, as well as after discharge. The team also evaluated standards of care and CARE Pathways. Changes in protocols were made to prevent the predictable complications of cardiac surgery. A decrease in intubation time, respiratory infections, wound infections, laboratory procedures, length of stay, and costs has been demonstrated. In a follow-up patient and family survey, high satisfaction with nursing care, patient and family education, and length of hospitalization has been voiced. Anticipated goals have been exceeded and improvements in standards continue to be made.

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