The Effects of Clinical Pathways for Renal Transplant on Patient Outcomes and Length of Stay

Jeremy Holtzman, Treva Bjerke, Robert L Kane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objectives. Clinical pathways have been implemented nationwide but little is understood about their effects on efficiency of care and patient outcomes. The present study examined the effects of both development and implementation of two renal transplant pathways. Methods. Cohorts of patients at a university hospital were compared before, during, and after the development and implementation of two renal transplant clinical pathways: isolated renal transplant from cadaveric donors (n = 170) or from living donors (n = 178). Clinical pathways for cadaveric and living related donor renal transplants were developed and implemented. Hospital length of stay and complications and infections after renal transplant were determined. Results. Mean length of hospital stay decreased after development and implementation of the cadaveric donor pathway (11.8 days after implementation versus 17.5 days before development). Cadaveric kidney recipients also had statistically fewer complications and infections after both guideline development and guideline implementation (57.1% before, 24.5% during, 18.5% after), but the greatest effect occurred during development. All of these findings persisted after control for demographic and comorbid factors. There were no changes in hospital stay, complications, or infections in the patients who received kidneys from living donors. Conclusions. The development and use of a clinical pathway for cadaveric donor renal transplant patients was associated with a significant decline in length of stay, complications, and infections, but much of the effect was seen during development rather than during implementation, and a closely related pathway for living related donor patients had no effect. Further understanding of what factors predict an effective pathway and what elements (ie, development or implementation) have an effect should be undertaken.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)826-834
Number of pages9
JournalMedical care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1998


  • Critical pathways
  • Guidelines
  • Outcomes of care
  • Renal transplant


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