Reducing Unnecessary Treatments for Acute Bronchiolitis Through an Integrated Care Pathway

Pediatrics. 2021 Jun;147(6):e20194021. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-4021. Epub 2021 May 6.


Objectives: To analyze the impact of an integrated care pathway on reducing unnecessary treatments for acute bronchiolitis.

Methods: We implemented an evidence-based integrated care pathway in primary care (PC) centers and the referral emergency department (ED). This is the third quality improvement cycle in the management of acute bronchiolitis implemented by our research team. Family and provider experiences were incorporated by using design thinking methodology. A multifaceted plan that included several quality improvement initiatives was adopted to reduce unnecessary treatments. The primary outcome was the percentage of infants prescribed salbutamol. Secondary outcomes were prescribing rates of other medications. The main control measures were hospitalization and unscheduled return rates. Salbutamol prescribing rate data were plotted on run charts.

Results: We included 1768 ED and 1092 PC visits, of which 913 (51.4%) ED visits and 558 (51.1%) PC visits occurred in the postintervention period. Salbutamol use decreased from 7.7% (interquartile range [IQR] 2.8-21.4) to 0% (IQR 0-1.9) in the ED and from 14.1% (IQR 5.8-21.6) to 5% (IQR 2.7-8) in PC centers. In the ED, the overall epinephrine use rate fell from 9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 7.2-11.1) to 4.6% (95% CI, 3.4-6.1) (P < .001). In PC centers, overall corticosteroid and antibiotic prescribing rates fell from 3.5% (95% CI, 2.2-5.4) to 1.1% (95% CI, 0.4-2.3) (P =.007) and from 9.5% (95% CI; 7.3-12.3) to 1.7% (95% CI, 0.9-7.3) (P <.001), respectively. No significant variations were noted in control measures.

Conclusions: An integrated clinical pathway that incorporates the experiences of families and clinicians decreased the use of medications in the management of bronchiolitis.