Reduction in Pediatric Ambulatory Adenotonsillectomy Length of Stay Using Clinical Care Guidelines

Jennifer Lavin*, Abbey Studer, Dana Thompson, Jonathan Ida, Jeff Rastatter, Patel Manisha, Patricia Huetteman, Erin Hoeman, Sarah Duggan, Patrick Birmingham, Michael R. King, Kathleen Billings

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Standardization of postoperative care using clinical care guidelines (CCG) improves quality by minimizing unwarranted variation. It is unknown whether CCGs impact patient throughput in outpatient adenotonsillectomy (T&A). We hypothesize that CCG implementation is associated with decreased postoperative length of stay (LOS) in outpatient T&A. Methods: A multidisciplinary team was assembled to design and implement a T&A CCG. Standardized discharge criteria were established, including goal fluid intake and parental demonstration of medication administration. An order set was created that included a hard stop for discharge timeframe with choices “meets criteria,” “4-hour observation,” and “overnight stay.” Consensus was achieved in June 2018, and the CCG was implemented in October 2018. Postoperative LOS for patients discharged the same day was tracked using control chart analysis with standard definitions for centerline shift being utilized. Trends in discharge timeframe selection were also followed. Results: Between July 2015 and August 2017, the average LOS was 4.82 hours. This decreased to 4.39 hours in September 2017 despite no known interventions and remained stable for 17 months. After CCG implementation, an initial trend toward increased LOS was followed by centerline shifts to 3.83 and 3.53 hours in March and October 2019, respectively. Selection of the “meets criteria” discharge timeframe increased over time after CCG implementation (R2 = 0.38 P =.003). Conclusions: Implementation of a CCG with standardized discharge criteria was associated with shortened postoperative LOS in outpatient T&A. Concurrently, surgeons shifted practice to discharge patients upon meeting criteria rather than after a designated timeframe. Level of Evidence: NA Laryngoscope, 131:2610–2615, 2021.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2610-2615
Number of pages6
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Adenotonsillectomy
  • ambulatory length of stay
  • clinical care guideline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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