Health care costs from the management of prostate cancer are estimated at $1.5 billion per year. As the number of radical prostatectomies being performed increases, a simultaneous rise in these costs can be expected. However, diminishing resources and the expanding managed care environment necessitate measures to curtail and even reduce these inflationary trends in health care expenditure. With this in mind, we established a collaborative clinical pathway for patients undergoing radical retropubic prostatectomy at our institution. The goals of the pathway were to reduce patient costs and hospital stay and to promote efficient use of resources for the procedure. We studied 71 patients who underwent radical retropubic prostatectomy and were managed according to the pathway during the first year of its implementation (July 1994 through July 1995). Outcome variables for these patients were compared with those of a group of 65 patients who underwent an identical procedure during the previous year (July 1993 through June 1994) before implementation of the pathway. Outcome parameters that were compared included hospital charges, length of stay (LOS), operating room (OR) time, units of packed red cells transfused, morbidity, and mortality. The overall hospital charges since implementation of the pathway decreased by 17.2% when corrected for inflation (p ≤ 0.006). LOS also decreased from a mean of 6.4 days to 5.2 days. There was no significant change in OR time. Overall complications remained unaffected (12.3% vs 12.6%). Based on these results, we conclude that establishment of an individualized, procedure-oriented clinical pathway for patients undergoing radical retropubic prostatectomy can result in significant reduction in patient costs without appreciable effect on morbidity and mortality.
- Radical prostatectomy
- clinical pathway