News | December 08, 2014

Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation Finds new Care Protocol That Shortens Hospital Stays for Some Heart Surgery Patients

Associated costs also reduced with changed guidelines

cardiovascular surgery, atrial fibrillation, Minneapolis Heart Institute Found.

Image courtesy of Seattle Children's Hospital

December 8, 2014 — Researchers at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation have found that when care teams started following a new set of guidelines for certain patients recovering from cardiovascular surgery, hospital stays (and the associated costs) were reduced.

Thirty to 40 percent of people who undergo major heart surgery (like bypass surgery or heart valve replacement) develop atrial fibrillation (AF) — a dangerously fast and chaotic heartbeat — during their recovery. AF increases the chance of major complications and results in longer hospital stays.

In March 2013, the healthcare team at Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital began using a new protocol to optimize and guide medication levels for these patients in real time. The protocol relies on a sophisticated algorithm that considers blood pressure, heart rate and duration of AF to guide decision-making.

A year later, MHIF researchers analyzed electronic medical records of 176 patients who developed AF after bypass or valve replacement surgery to see how and if the new protocol impacted patient care. Of the 176 patients, 55 (31.3 percent) were treated following the AF protocol and 121 (68.7 percent) were not. The researchers found that use of the protocol shortened hospital stays by 71.5 days overall, and associated hospitalization costs by a total of $169,741. The protocol did not significantly impact length of stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) or likelihood of experiencing a post-operative stroke.

Based on these results, researchers feel that achieving 50% protocol use, an estimated 98 hospital days and $232,652 could be saved annually.

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