The Effects of Clinical Pathways on Professional Practice, Patient Outcomes, Length of Stay, and Hospital Costs: Cochrane Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
This paper is a summary version of the previously published Cochrane review. It may increase the reach of the topic to health researchers and practitioners and encourage further discussion. The systematic review aims to summarize the evidence and assess the effect of clinical pathways on professional practice, patient outcomes, length of hospital stay, and hospital costs. The authors searched the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness, the Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and bibliographic databases including MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, NHS EED, and Global Health. Twenty-seven studies considering a total of 11,398 participants were included for analysis. The main results were a reduction in in-hospital complications (odds ratio 0.58: 95% CI [0.36, 0.94] and improved documentation (odds ratio 11.95: 95% CI [4.72, 30.30]) associated with clinical pathways. Considerable variation in study design and settings prevented statistical pooling of results for length of stay (LOS) and hospital costs. The authors concluded that clinical pathways are associated with reduced in-hospital complications and improved documentation.