Improving Patient-Centered Transitional Care after Complex Abdominal Surgery

Alexandra W. Acher, Stephanie A. Campbell-Flohr, Maria Brenny-Fitzpatrick, Kristine M. Leahy-Gross, Sara Fernandes-Taylor, Alexander V. Fisher, Suresh Agarwal, Amy J. Kind, Caprice C. Greenberg, Pascale Carayon, Sharon M. Weber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background Poor-quality transitions of care from hospital to home contribute to high rates of readmission after complex abdominal surgery. The Coordinated Transitional Care (C-TraC) program improved readmission rates in medical patients, but evidence-based surgical transitional care protocols are lacking. This pilot study evaluated the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of an adapted surgical C-TraC protocol. Study Design The intervention includes in-person enrollment of patients. Follow-up protocolized phone calls by specially trained surgical C-TraC nurses addressed medication management, clinic appointments, operation-specific concerns, and identification of red-flag symptoms. Enrollment criteria included pancreatectomy, gastrectomy, operative small bowel obstruction or perforation, ostomy, discharge with a drain, in-hospital complication, and clinician discretion. Engaged patients participated in the first phone call, which was within 48 to 72 hours of discharge and continued every 3 to 4 days. Patients completed the program once they and surgical C-TraC nurse agreed that no additional follow-up was needed or the patient was readmitted. Results Two hundred and twelve patients were enrolled, October 2015 through April 2016, with a mean age of 56 years (range 19 to 89 years); 33% of patients were 65 years or older. Surgery sites included colon (46%), small bowel (16%), pancreas (12%), multivisceral (9%), liver (4.5%), retroperitoneum/soft tissue (4.5%), gastric (4%), biliary (2%), and appendix (1.5%). Refusal rate was 1% and engagement was 95%. At initial call, 47% of patients had at least 1 medication discrepancy (range 0 to 6). Mean number of calls from provider to patient was 3.2 (range 0 to 20, median 3). Conclusions A phone-based transitional care protocol for surgical patients is feasible, with <1% refusals and 95% engagement. Medication management is a prominent issue. Future studies are needed to assess the impact of surgical C-TraC on post-discharge healthcare use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-265
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


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