Implementation of a Postoperative Outpatient Care Pathway for Delayed Hyponatremia Following Transsphenoidal Surgery

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

After transsphenoidal surgery, delayed hyponatremia (DH) is the leading cause of 30-d unplanned hospital readmissions.

OBJECTIVE

To determine the impact of a DH care pathway on 30-d readmissions after transsphenoidal surgery.

METHODS

Data from before and after DH care pathway implementation were retrospectively reviewed. Patient demographics and clinical characteristics were compared. Readmission causes, clinical pathway failures, sodium trends, and symptoms were evaluated.

RESULTS

Before the DH care pathway implementation, 229 (55%) patients were treated (group 1); afterward, 188 (45%) were treated (group 2). Baseline characteristics were equivalent between groups, except for glucocorticoid supplementation, which was higher in group 2. The incidence of detected DH was significantly lower in group 1 (16/229, 7%) than group 2 (29/188, 15%) (P = .006) likely due to the impact of routine screening in group 2. Ten group 1 patients (4%) were readmitted for hyponatremia and 6 (3%) were managed as outpatients. Eleven group 2 patients (6%) were readmitted and 17 (9%) were managed as outpatients. Readmission rates between groups were similar (P = .49). Patients readmitted with severe hyponatremia experienced symptoms ≥24 h before presentation. The protocol failed to prevent readmission because outpatient management for mild or moderate DH (n = 4) failed, sodium levels precipitously declined after normal screening (n = 3), and severe hyponatremia developed after scheduled screenings were missed (n = 3).

CONCLUSION

Although more DH patients were identified after care pathway implementation, readmission rates were not reduced and clinical outcomes were not changed. Because DH onset timing varies, some patients have highly acute presentation, and most readmitted patients develop symptoms before reaching their sodium nadir, close symptom monitoring may be a reasonable alternative to routine screening.

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