Optimizing Transfer of Postcesarean Patients to Postoperative Ward Through a Quality Improvement (QI) Project: Curtailing Delays, Improving Care

Qual Manag Health Care. 2023 Mar 16. doi: 10.1097/QMH.0000000000000388. Online ahead of print.


Background and objectives: Close monitoring of patients in the first 2 hours after cesarean delivery (CD) is crucial. Delays in shifting of the post-CD patients led to a chaotic environment in the postoperative ward, suboptimal monitoring, and inadequate nursing care. Our aim was to increase the percentage of post-CD patients shifted from transfer trolley to bed within 10 minutes of arrival in the postoperative ward from a baseline of 64% to 100%, and to maintain that rate for more than 3 weeks.

Methods: A quality improvement team including physicians, nurses, and workers was constituted. Problem analysis revealed lack of communication among the caregivers as the main cause of delay. The percentage of post-CD patients shifted from trolley to bed within 10 minutes of being wheeled into the postoperative ward out of the total number of post-CD patients transferred from the operation theater to the postoperative ward was taken as the outcome indicator for the project. Multiple Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles based on the Point of Care Quality Improvement methodology were undertaken to achieve the target. Main interventions were: 1) written information of patient being transferred to operation theater for CD sent to the postoperative ward; 2) stationing of a duty doctor in the postoperative ward; and 3) keeping a buffer of 1 vacant bed in the postoperative ward. The data were plotted weekly as a dynamic time series chart and signals of change were observed.

Results: Eighty-three percent (172 out of 206) of women were shifted in time by 3 weeks. After Plan-Do-Study-Act 4, the percentages kept improving leading to a median shift from 85.6% to 100% after 10 weeks post-initiation of the project. Sustainment was confirmed by continuing observations for 6 more weeks to ensure that the changed protocol was assimilated in the system. We found that all women were shifted within 10 minutes of their arrival in postoperative ward from trolley to bed.

Conclusion: Providing high-quality care to patients must be a priority for all health care providers. High-quality care is timely, efficient, evidence based, and patient-centric. Delays in transfer of postoperative patients to the monitoring area can be detrimental. The point of Care Quality Improvement methodology is useful and effective in solving complex problems by understanding and fixing the various contributory factors one by one. Reorganization of processes and available manpower without any extra investment in terms of infrastructure and resources is pivotal for long term success of a quality improvement project.