OBJECTIVE: To illustrate, using a literature review and CareMAPs, how care coordination and implementation of standard protocols can impact clinical outcomes for open heart surgery patients. METHODS: A CareMAP for open heart surgery patients was developed by a multidisciplinary team. To evaluate the effectiveness of CareMAP implementation and specific quality improvement efforts, a pilot study was done that focused on increasing activity levels, decreasing ventilator time, and decreasing the frequency of arterial blood gas sampling for a sample of 55 open heart surgery patients. A rapid recovery program was developed based on the results of this pilot study. A multidisciplinary continuous quality improvement team was developed to focus on three primary areas: ventilator weaning time, activity regimens, and early transfer to the open heart surgery step-down unit. Forty-nine open heart surgery patients were included in the initial program evaluation. RESULTS: The frequency of arterial blood gas sampling decreased from an average of 5.8 per patient to an average of 3.9 per patient. Postoperative length of stay also decreased by 1.3 days for diagnosis related group 106 patients, and 3.7 days for diagnosis related group 107 patients. Results of the pilot study demonstrated additional opportunities for improving the care of open heart surgery patients. Using the rapid recovery program, the average ventilator time decreased by 4.4 hours per patient. The average postoperative length of stay decreased to 4.7 days. CONCLUSIONS: Through the quality improvement process and through the use of CareMAPs and specific protocols, the recovery of open heart surgery patients was facilitated.

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