How effective are clinical pathways in improving professional practice, patient outcomes, length of stay and hospital costs?
Considerable heterogeneity prevented meta-analysis of length of stay and hospital costs. An assessment of whether lower hospital costs contributed to cost shifting to another health sector was not undertaken. Generally, poor reporting prevented the identification of characteristics common to successful clinical pathways.
Clinical pathways are structured multidisciplinary care plans used by health services to detail essential steps in the care of patients with a specific clinical problem. They aim to link evidence to practice and optimise clinical outcomes while maximising clinical efficiency.