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Fast-Tracking in Congenital Heart Surgery

Summary of “Economic and Safety Implications of Introducing Fast-Tracking in Congenital Heart Surgery”

  • Innovative surgical techniques called “fast-tracking” safely speed patients’ recovery after pediatric heart-surgery, maintain excellent care, reduce costs and allow patients to go home from the hospital in as little as a day after heart surgery.
  • Khanh H. Nguyen, MD, Chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), is a pioneering researcher of these groundbreaking protocols.
  • Fast-tracking components include performing surgery the same day the patient is admitted to the hospital; restoring normal breathing by safely removing breathing assistance soon after surgery; encouraging the patient to walk soon after the procedure; and faster but safe releases from the Intensive Care Unit and hospital.
  • Use of these procedures does not increase hospital readmissions or complications.

This study, published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, details innovative surgical techniques that safely speed many pediatric heart-surgery patients’ recovery, maintain quality of care, reduce costs and hasten release from the hospital in as little as a day.

Khanh H. Nguyen, MD, Chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), is a pioneering researcher of these transformative “fast-tracking” protocols. They reduce the impacts of surgery and are part of Dr. Nguyen’s and his team’s steadfast commitment to patient comfort and well-being. For appointments or referrals, please call 914.493.8793.

The study also found that quality of care during fast-tracking was maintained, and earlier release from the hospital did not increase hospital readmissions or result in complications.

Fast-tracking components include day-of-admission surgery; restoring normal breathing by safely removing breathing assistance soon after surgery; encouraging the patient to be mobile; and early discharge from the Intensive Care Unit and hospital.

This study, published in an American Heart Association journal, was the first to compare length and costs of a hospital stay for congenital heart surgery with a national database. It analyzed data regarding surgical outcomes for pediatric patients with either an atrial septal defect (ASD) or a ventricular septal defect (VSD), which are holes in interior walls of the heart.

Many of these surgical repairs were conducted through a small horizontal incision in the armpit, avoiding the surgical necessity, when conducting heart surgery through the chest, of splitting of breast bone. This groundbreaking alternative, called an axillary incision, leaves an almost invisible scar while speeding recovery. It is safe, durable and effective – and sets a new standard of care for many patients.

Overall, the study concluded, “After the implementation of fast-tracking, we observed a shorter length of stay and reduced costs for children undergoing surgery for isolated ASDs and VSDs… this supports the significant role that fast-tracking may have played in observed improved outcomes…”

Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes publishes articles related to improving cardiovascular health and healthcare. This study was published in March 2013.

Please CLICK HERE for the study.