Reports From the Field

Implementation of a Multidisciplinary Team–Based Clinical Care Pathway Is Associated With Increased Surgery Rates for Infective Endocarditis



From the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia, MO (Haley Crosby); Department of Clinical Family and Community Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO (Dr. Pierce); and Department of Medicine, Divisions of Infectious Diseases and Pulmonary, Critical Care and Environmental Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, and Divisions of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Infectious Diseases, University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center, Glen Burnie, MD (Dr. Regunath).


Objective: Multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) improve outcomes for patients with infective endocarditis (IE), but methods of implementation vary. In our academic medical center, we developed an MDT approach guided by a clinical care pathway and assessed outcomes of patients with IE.

Methods: We compared outcomes of patients with IE and indications for surgery between December 2018 and June 2020 with our prior published data for the period January to December 2016. MDT interventions involved recurring conferences with infectious diseases physicians in team meetings and promoting a clinical care pathway to guide providers on steps in management. Primary outcomes were surgery and in-hospital death.

Results: Prior to the intervention, 6 of 21 (28.6%) patients with indications for surgery underwent surgery or were transferred to higher centers for surgery, and 6 (28.6%) patients died. Post intervention, 17 of 31 (54.8%) patients underwent or were transferred for surgery, and 5 (16.1%) died. After adjusting for age and gender, the odds of surgery or transfer for surgery for patients in the postintervention period were 4.88 (95% CI, 1.20-19.79; P = .027) compared with the pre-intervention period. The odds ratio for death among patients in the postintervention period was 0.40 (95% CI, 0.09-1.69; P = .21).

Conclusion: An MDT team approach using a clinical pathway was associated with an increased number of surgeries performed for IE and may lower rates of in-hospital mortality.

Keywords: infective endocarditis, clinical pathway, quality improvement, multidisciplinary team, valve surgery.

Infective endocarditis (IE) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality.1 Rates of IE due to Staphylococcus aureus are increasing in the United States.2 Reported in-hospital mortality from IE ranges from 15% to 20%.3 Optimal management of IE requires input from a number of specialties, including infectious diseases (ID), cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery (CTS), oromaxillofacial surgery, radiology (eg, nuclear medicine), and neurology, among others, depending on the site of complications. Guidelines from the United States and Europe recommend incorporating multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) in the management of IE.1,3-5 These recommendations are based on quasi-experimental before-and-after studies that have consistently demonstrated that MDTs reduce in-hospital and 1-year mortality.6-11 However, implementation of MDTs can be challenging. Successful MDTs require good team dynamics, unified participation, and seamless communication among team members.

Clinical pathways are defined as “structured, multidisciplinary plans of care used by health services to detail essential steps in the care of patients with a specific clinical problem.”12 In the modern era, these pathways are often developed and implemented via the electronic health record (EHR) system. Studies of clinical pathways generally demonstrate improvements in patient outcomes, quality of care, or resource utilization.13,14 Clinical pathways represent 1 possible approach to the implementation of a MDT in the care of patients with IE.15

In our earlier work, we used quality improvement principles in the design of an MDT approach to IE care at our institution.16 Despite having indications for surgery, 12 of 21 (57.1%) patients with IE did not undergo surgery, and we identified these missed opportunities for surgery as a leverage point for improvement of outcomes. With input from the various specialties and stakeholders, we developed a clinical pathway (algorithm) for the institutional management of IE that guides next steps in clinical care and their timelines, aiming to reduce by 50% (from 57.1% to 28.6%) the number of patients with IE who do not undergo surgery despite guideline indications for early surgical intervention. In this report, we describe the implementation of this clinical pathway as our MDT approach to the care of patients with IE at our institution.


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