Guideline-driven care improves outcomes in patients with traumatic rib fractures

Kathleen Flarity, Whitney C. Rhodes, Andrew J. Berson, Brian E. Leininger, Paul E. Reckard, Keyan D. Riley, Charles P. Shahan, Thomas J. Schroeppel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


There is no established national standard for rib fracture management. A clinical practice guideline (CPG) for rib fractures, including monitoring of pulmonary function, early initiation of aggressive loco-regional analgesia, and early identification of deteriorating respiratory function, was implemented in 2013. The objective of the study was to evaluate the effect of the CPG on hospital length of stay. Hospital length of stay (LOS) was compared for adult patients admitted to the hospital with rib fracture(s) two years before and two years after CPG implementation. A separate analysis was done for the patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Over the 48-month study period, 571 patients met inclusion criteria for the study. Pre-CPG and CPG study groups were well matched with few differences. Multivariable regression did not demonstrate a difference in LOS (B = 20.838; P = 0.095) in the total study cohort. In the ICU cohort (n = 274), patients in the CPG group were older (57 vs 52 years; P = 0.023) and had more rib fractures (4 vs 3; P = 0.003). Multivariable regression identified a significant decrease in LOS for those patients admitted in the CPG period (B = -22.29; P = 0.019). Despite being significantly older with more rib fractures in the ICU cohort, patients admitted after implementation of the CPG had a significantly reduced LOS on multivariable analysis, reducing LOS by over two days. This structured intervention can limit narcotic usage, improve pulmonary function, and decrease LOS in the most injured patients with chest trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1012-1017
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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