Background: The authors describe a process improvement effort to achieve direct-from-recovery-room discharge for elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy patients--without prior patient selection.
Methods: The authors developed and implemented a new pathway, and then measured the learning curve (ie, success rate over time for direct discharge) and compared patients achieving direct discharge with patients admitted after surgery.
Results: The learning curve between the first patient and steady-state performance was 56 patients. A total of 80% of patients achieved direct discharge. Directly discharged patients were younger (P<.001), had lower ASA physical status classifications (P<.005), and left the recovery room earlier in the day (P<.0001). However, elderly patients and those with high ASA scores frequently could be directly discharged from the recovery room.
Conclusions: Through small team based rapid cycle process improvement, direct-from-recovery-room discharge of laparoscopic cholecystectomy patients can be achieved in an unselected patient population with a short learning curve.