As payment strategies for health care evolve in the United States, hospitals are required to review their practices and ensure that the most cost-effective, high-quality care is being delivered as a means to support affordable health care. One strategy often used by institutions to improve quality of care while decreasing hospital costs is the development and implementation of clinical effectiveness guidelines (CEGs). CEGs provide an outline for the provision of safe and consistent patient care throughout a hospitalization. Within the literature, such guidelines are often referred to as critical pathways and are also known as critical paths, clinical pathways, or care paths. Becker et al define critical pathways as management plans that display goals for patients and provide the sequence and timing of actions necessary to achieve these goals with optimal efficiency. The use of fast-track protocols and critical care pathways ensures...

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