The effect of early follow-up after open cardiac surgery in a student clinic

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Objectives. Readmission rates following open cardiac surgery are high, affecting patients and the cost of care. This study aimed to investigate the effect of early additional follow-up after open cardiac surgery when 5th-year medical students conducted follow-ups under the supervision of physicians. The primary endpoint was unplanned cardiac-related readmissions within one year. The secondary outcomes were the detection of impending complications and health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Methods. Patients undergoing open cardiac surgery were prospectively included. For intervention, additional follow-up visits, including point-of-care ultrasound, were conducted by supervised 5th-year medical students on postoperative days 3, 14 and 25. Unplanned cardiac-related readmissions, including emergency department visits, were registered within the first year of surgery. Danish National Health Survey 2010 questionnaire was used for HRQOL. In standard follow-up, all patients were seen 4-6 weeks postoperative. Results. For data analysis, 100 of 124 patients in the intervention group and 319 of 335 patients in the control group were included. The 1-year unplanned readmission rates did not differ; 32% and 30% in the intervention and control groups, respectively (p = 0.71). After discharge, 1% of patients underwent pericardiocentesis. The additional follow-up initiated scheduled drainage, contrary to more unscheduled/acute drainages in the control group. Pleurocentesis was more common in the intervention group (17% (n = 17) vs 8% (n = 25), p = 0.01) and performed earlier. There was no difference between groups on HRQOL. Conclusion. Supervised student-led follow-up of newly cardiac-operated patients did not alter readmission rates or HRQOL but may detect complications earlier and initiate non-emergent treatment of complications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2184861
JournalScandinavian Cardiovascular Journal
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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