Criteria to Determine Readiness for Hospital Discharge Following Colorectal Surgery: An International Consensus Using the Delphi Technique
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BACKGROUND: Standardized discharge criteria are considered valuable to reduce the risk of premature discharge and avoid unnecessary hospital stays. The most appropriate criteria to indicate readiness for discharge after colorectal surgery are unknown. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to achieve an international consensus on hospital discharge criteria for patients undergoing colorectal surgery. DESIGN: Fifteen experts from different countries participated in a 3-round Delphi process. In round 1, experts determined which criteria best indicate readiness for discharge and described specific end points for each criterion. In rounds 2 and 3, experts rated their agreement with the use of a 5-point Likert scale. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Consensus was defined when criteria and end points were rated as agree or strongly agree by at least 75% of the experts in round 3. RESULTS: Experts reached consensus that patients should be considered ready for hospital discharge when there is tolerance of oral intake, recovery of lower gastrointestinal function, adequate pain control with oral analgesia, ability to mobilize and self-care, and no evidence of complications or untreated medical problems. Specific end points were defined for each of the criteria. Experts also agreed that after these criteria are achieved, discharge may take place as soon as the patient has adequate postdischarge support and is willing to leave the hospital. If a stoma was constructed, the patient or the patient's family should have received training on stoma care or had outpatient training arranged. LIMITATIONS: The panel comprised mostly experts from developed countries. This may restrict the applicability of these discharge criteria in countries where there are dissimilar health care resources. CONCLUSION: This Delphi study has provided substantial consensus on discharge criteria for patients undergoing colorectal surgery. We recommend that these criteria be used in clinical practice to guide decisions regarding patient discharge and applied in future research to increase the comparability of study results.
Diseases of the Colon and Rectum