Adaptation and Implementation of a Transitional Care Protocol for Patients Undergoing Complex Abdominal Surgery

Alexander V. Fisher, Stephanie A. Campbell-Flohr, Laura Sell, Emily Osterhaus, Alexandra W. Acher, Kristine Leahy-Gross, Maria Brenny-Fitzpatrick, Amy J.H. Kind, Pascale Carayon, Daniel E. Abbott, Emily R. Winslow, Caprice C. Greenberg, Sara Fernandes-Taylor, Sharon M. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Transitional care protocols are effective at reducing readmission for medical patients, yet no evidence-based protocols exist for surgical patients. A transitional care protocol was adapted to meet the needs of patients discharged to home after major abdominal surgery. Approach: The Coordinated-Transitional Care (C-TraC) protocol, initially designed for medical patients, was used as the initial framework for the development of a surgery-specific protocol (sC-TraC). Adaptation was accomplished using a modification of the Replicating Effective Programs (REP) model, which has four phases: (1) preconditions, (2) preimplementation, (3) implementation, and (4) maintenance and evolution. A random sample of five patients each month was selected to complete a phone survey regarding patient satisfaction. Preimplementation planning allowed for integration with current systems, avoided duplication of processes, and defined goals for the protocol. The adapted protocol specifically addressed surgical issues such as nutrition, fever, ostomy output, dehydration, drain character/output, and wound appearance. After protocol launch, the rapid iterative adaptation process led to changes in phone call timing, inclusion and exclusion criteria, and discharge instructions. Outcomes: Survey responders reported 100% overall satisfaction with the transitional care program. Key Insights: The adaptable nature of sC-TraC may allow for low-resource hospitals, such as rural or inner-city medical centers, to use the methodology provided in this study for implementation of local phone-based transitional care protocols. In addition, as the C-TraC program has begun to disseminate nationally across US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and rural health settings, sC-TraC may be implemented using the existing transitional care infrastructure in place at these hospitals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-750
Number of pages10
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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