Quality improvement project to reduce pediatric clear liquid fasting times prior to anesthesia.
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<p><strong>BACKGROUND: </strong>Unnecessarily long preprocedural fasting can cause suffering and distress for children and their families. Institutional fasting policies are designed to consistently achieve minimum fasting times, often without regard to the extent to which actual fasting times exceed these minimums. Children at our hospital frequently experienced clear liquid fasting times far in excess of required minimums.</p>
<p><strong>AIMS: </strong>The aim of this study was to utilize quality improvement methodology to reduce excess fasting times, with a goal of achieving experienced clear liquid fasting times ≤4 hours for 60% of our patients.</p>
<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>This quality improvement project was conducted between July 2017 and August 2018. A multidisciplinary team performed a series of Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles focused on children undergoing elective procedures at a large children's hospital. Key drivers for clear liquid fasting times and relevant balancing measures were identified. Data were analyzed using control charts and statistical process control methods.</p>
<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>Approximately 16 000 children were involved in this project. Over the course of the project, the percentage of children with goal clear liquid fasting times improved from the baseline of 20%-63%, with a change in the mean fasting time from 9 hours to 6 hours. There were no significant effects on balancing measures (case delays/cancellations and clinically significant aspiration events).</p>
<p><strong>CONCLUSION: </strong>Using quality improvement methodology, we safely improved the duration of preoperative fasting experienced by our patients. Our results provide additional data supporting the safety of more permissive 1-hour clear liquid fasting minimums. We suggest other institutions pursue similar efforts to improve patient and family experience.</p>