Surgical correction remains the most effective treatment of patients with severe neuromuscular scoliosis (NMS). However, postoperative inpatient clinical care after spinal surgery for NMS patients is highly complex and variable, depending on the provider and/or institution. Our project used a quality improvement methodology to implement a standardized clinical care pathway for NMS patients during their primary spinal surgery, with the global aim of decreasing postoperative hospitalized length of stay (LOS).
A multidisciplinary team developed a postoperative pathway for nonambulatory patients with NMS after their primary, nonstaged corrective spinal surgery. The outcome measure was mean LOS, and the process measure was percentage compliance with the newly implemented NMS pathway. The team used statistical process control charts and measures were evaluated over 3 phases to assess the impact of the interventions over time: pretesting, testing, and sustain.
The mean LOS decreased from 8.0 to 5.3 days; a statistically significant change based on statistical process control chart rules. Percentage compliance with the NMS pathway improved during the testing and sustain phases, compared with the pretesting phase. LOS variability decreased from pretesting to the combined testing and sustain phases.
Using quality improvement methodology, we successfully standardized major components of clinical care for patients with NMS after spinal corrective surgery. Through enhanced care consistency, the mean postoperative LOS decreased by nearly 3 days and decreased LOS variability. Robust multidisciplinary involvement with key stakeholders ensured sustainability of these improvements.