Reducing Readmissions Post-tonsillectomy: A Quality Improvement Study on Intravenous Hydration

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Abstract

Introduction:

Dehydration is a potentially preventable complication post-tonsillectomy and can result in an Emergency Department visit and/or readmission. Our objectives were to identify risk factors for dehydration readmissions and develop interventions to prevent them.

Methods:

We used retrospective chart reviews to determine if increased intravenous (IV) hydration post-tonsillectomy prevented hospital readmissions for dehydration. All children aged 1–18 years who underwent tonsillectomy between July 1, 2007 and September 30, 2015 were included in this quality improvement study. Using the Pediatric Health Information System database, patients who experienced a readmission for dehydration within 72 hours of surgery were identified and validated with internal data. We analyzed the pre-implementation and post-implementation readmission rates after standardization of increased IV fluids (1.5 times maintenance). An interrupted time series analysis was used to estimate the effects of our hydration initiative.

Results:

Of 11,157 patients who underwent tonsillectomy during the study period, 96 (0.9%) met the criteria for readmissions for dehydration. The pre-implementation readmission rate was 1% compared to 0.2% post-implementation, a reduction of 82%.

Conclusions:

The hydration initiative was associated with a significant decrease in hospital readmissions. This safe, low-cost, easy-to-implement approach to preventing dehydration post-tonsillectomy could be explored at other institutions.

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