PURPOSE: Critical pathway (CP) refers to the standardized care process that predefines the treatment sequence and timing for a specific group of diseases and patients. The recent interest in CPs has increased as a quality improvement tool and a cost-effective delivery system for medical services. The authors applied a CP for pediatric inguinal hernias, and we investigated the cost effectiveness and also the satisfaction of the patients and the medical staff. METHODS: The CP was applied to 24 patients (the CP group) and the characteristics of the patients, the length of the hospital stay, the postoperative course, the medical costs and the results of the survey were compared with 26 other patients (the non-CP group). RESULTS: There was no difference in the patients' characteristics, the length of the hospital stay, the postoperative complications and the course of between the two groups. The cost for the medications, injections, treatments and examinations for the CP group were significantly lower than those for the non-CP group (P<0.05). The satisfaction of patients was significantly improved after the application of the CP (P<0.05), and the satisfaction of the medical staff was high. CONCLUSION: The application of a CP for pediatric inguinal hernia can save treatment-related medical costs. Moreover, the CP is an effective, excellent care process that improves the satisfaction of both the patients and the medical staff.