Advanced Practice Nurse Phone Follow-Up Initiative to Reduce Unplanned Returns for Perforated Appendicitis Patients

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Introduction:Perforated appendicitis is a high-volume diagnosis managed by advanced practice nurses (APNs) in the general pediatric surgery department at an urban hospital in the northeast. This APN-led quality improvement project aimed to determine the impact of APN phone follow-up to prevent unplanned return visits and readmission.Methods:Before June 2015, all patients with perforated appendicitis discharged home on antibiotic therapy were provided with APN phone follow-up. The patients were followed for 30-day outcomes regarding unplanned returns to care. The goal was to attempt to identify patients at a higher risk for returns based on symptom analysis so that preventative measures may be instituted. The process of phone follow-up for patients with perforated appendicitis changed in June 2015 because of the decreased number of patients discharged home on intravenous antibiotic therapy, and therefore the phone follow-up was discontinued. This allowed the data from the first cohort (December 2014 to May 2015) to be reviewed by a retrospective chart review and analyzed.Outcomes:The preliminary data between the two cohorts, which have comparable patient volumes and return rates, have revealed that the APN phone follow-up did not necessarily change the rate of unplanned return-to-care visits after patient discharge, perhaps because of the call being conducted too soon after discharge. Our findings suggested that the APN phone follow-up call may have been more impactful in reducing unplanned return-to-care visits if completed after the 48-hour time frame.

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