Objective: (1) To create a guideline to improve care of adolescent patients diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID); (2) to promote cost-effective, consistent care while minimizing delays and ensuring timely and appropriate use of laboratory tests and other interventions; and (3) to describe the process of the development and the implementation of a clinical pathway for PID.
Methods: The study involved the creation and piloting of a multidisciplinary, collaborative clinical pathway for uncomplicated PID on an inpatient service, and the development of a standardized form for analysis of demographics and variances from the pathway. The setting was an inpatient adolescent service at a children's hospital in an urban setting. All patients admitted with a clinical diagnosis of PID from April 1, 1993, to November 30, 1993, were followed up by means of the clinical pathway. All patients discharged with a diagnosis of uncomplicated PID in fiscal year 1992 (FY92: October 1, 1991, to September 30, 1992) were used as a comparison population. The main outcome measures included length of stay, charges per patient, timing of antibiotic administration, use of laboratory tests at admission and at 48 to 72 hours, and documentation of pathway variances.
Results: A clinical pathway was created by consensus during a period of several months. During implementation, 28 of 34 (82%) patients admitted by use of the pathway had a final diagnosis of PID; 23 of the 28 (82%) had uncomplicated PID. Variances from the pathway included missed rapid plasma reagins (RPRs) and laboratory tests that were not indicated. For uncomplicated PID, length of stay was reduced (p=.08) from a median of 4 days in FY92 (mean, 5.0 1 3.1 days; range, 2-15 days) to a median of 3 days in the study group (mean, 3.5 + 1.0 days; range, 2-4 days), with differences not reaching the level of significance. There were significantly more patients staying 5 days or longer in FY92 than in the study group (p<.03). Average charges per patient also decreased by 10% (median, $5,275 in FY92 to $4,919), although these results were not statistically significant.
Conclusion: A clinical pathway for uncomplicated PID can be developed and implemented through a multidisciplinary, collaborative process, with ongoing use as a means of quality improvement and continuing education. Variances from the pathway highlight the need for ongoing education for health care providers. Downward trends in charges per patient and length of stay, although not significant, are encouraging; but they require longitudinal follow up with larger numbers of patients and analysis of outcomes.