Objectives: Acute nonvariceal upper gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is the most common medical emergency encountered by gastroenterologists resulting in high patient morbidity and cost. We sought to establish if a GI bleeding clinical care pathway could improve the quality and cost effectiveness of inpatient medical care.
Methods: A disease management program for acute upper GI bleeding was established. Length of stay, time to endoscopy, utilization of potentially unnecessary radiological tests, acid suppression, and cost of care were compared between patients pre- and postinitiation of GI bleeding pathway guidelines.
Results: The instituted GI bleeding management program significantly reduced the use of intravenous H2-blockade from 65.3% to 47.7% (p = 0.002). The use of radiological tests, time to endoscopy, and length of hospital of stay were unchanged. There was a trend toward a reduction in total cost and variable direct cost per patient admitted with acute upper GI bleeding, from $5,381 to $4,627 and from $2,269 to $1,952, respectively.
Conclusion: A clinical care pathway may affect the management of acute upper GI bleeding and reduce costs. However, there are significant limitations and barriers to the overall effectiveness of such a pathway in actual clinical practice.