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      Effectiveness of Practices to Support Appropriate Laboratory Test Utilization : A Laboratory Medicine Best Practices Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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          To evaluate the effectiveness of practices used to support appropriate clinical laboratory test utilization.


          This review followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Laboratory Medicine Best Practices A6 cycle method. Eligible studies assessed one of the following practices for effect on outcomes relating to over- or underutilization: computerized provider order entry (CPOE), clinical decision support systems/tools (CDSS/CDST), education, feedback, test review, reflex testing, laboratory test utilization (LTU) teams, and any combination of these practices. Eligible outcomes included intermediate, systems outcomes (eg, number of tests ordered/performed and cost of tests), as well as patient-related outcomes (eg, length of hospital stay, readmission rates, morbidity, and mortality).


          Eighty-three studies met inclusion criteria. Fifty-one of these studies could be meta-analyzed. Strength of evidence ratings for each practice ranged from high to insufficient.


          Practice recommendations are made for CPOE (specifically, modifications to existing CPOE), reflex testing, and combined practices. No recommendation for or against could be made for CDSS/CDST, education, feedback, test review, and LTU. Findings from this review serve to inform guidance for future studies.

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          The Landscape of Inappropriate Laboratory Testing: A 15-Year Meta-Analysis

          Background Laboratory testing is the single highest-volume medical activity and drives clinical decision-making across medicine. However, the overall landscape of inappropriate testing, which is thought to be dominated by repeat testing, is unclear. Systematic differences in initial vs. repeat testing, measurement criteria, and other factors would suggest new priorities for improving laboratory testing. Methods A multi-database systematic review was performed on published studies from 1997–2012 using strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. Over- vs. underutilization, initial vs. repeat testing, low- vs. high-volume testing, subjective vs. objective appropriateness criteria, and restrictive vs. permissive appropriateness criteria, among other factors, were assessed. Results Overall mean rates of over- and underutilization were 20.6% (95% CI 16.2–24.9%) and 44.8% (95% CI 33.8–55.8%). Overutilization during initial testing (43.9%; 95% CI 35.4–52.5%) was six times higher than during repeat testing (7.4%; 95% CI 2.5–12.3%; P for stratum difference <0.001). Overutilization of low-volume tests (32.2%; 95% CI 25.0–39.4%) was three times that of high-volume tests (10.2%; 95% CI 2.6–17.7%; P<0.001). Overutilization measured according to restrictive criteria (44.2%; 95% CI 36.8–51.6%) was three times higher than for permissive criteria (12.0%; 95% CI 8.0–16.0%; P<0.001). Overutilization measured using subjective criteria (29.0%; 95% CI 21.9–36.1%) was nearly twice as high as for objective criteria (16.1%; 95% CI 11.0–21.2%; P = 0.004). Together, these factors explained over half (54%) of the overall variability in overutilization. There were no statistically significant differences between studies from the United States vs. elsewhere (P = 0.38) or among chemistry, hematology, microbiology, and molecular tests (P = 0.05–0.65) and no robust statistically significant trends over time. Conclusions The landscape of overutilization varies systematically by clinical setting (initial vs. repeat), test volume, and measurement criteria. Underutilization is also widespread, but understudied. Expanding the current focus on reducing repeat testing to include ordering the right test during initial evaluation may lead to fewer errors and better care.
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            GRADE Evidence to Decision (EtD) frameworks: a systematic and transparent approach to making well informed healthcare choices. 1: Introduction.

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              Factors contributing to inappropriate ordering of tests in an academic medical department and the effect of an educational feedback strategy.

              To identify factors contributing to laboratory overutilisation in an academic medical department, and to assess the effect of an educational feedback strategy on inappropriate test-ordering behaviour. The records of 426 patients admitted during a 6-month period were reviewed. The usefulness of 25 investigations (haematology, basic biochemistry and arterial blood gases) was assessed according to implicit criteria. Trainees' acquaintance with investigation costs was assessed via a multiple-choice questionnaire. The medical staff was informed about their test-ordering behaviour, cost awareness and the factors associated with overuse of diagnostic tests. The test-ordering behaviour of the same doctors was reassessed on 214 patients managed during 6 months after the intervention. Overall, 24 482 laboratory tests were ordered before the intervention (mean 2.96 tests/patient/day). Among those, 67.9% were not considered to have contributed towards management of patients (mean avoidable 2.01 tests/patient/day). Patient age >/=65 years, hospitalisation beyond 7 days and increased case difficulty (death or inability to establish a diagnosis) were factors independently associated with overuse of laboratory tests. Senior trainees ordered more laboratory examinations, but the percentage of avoidable tests requested by junior trainees was higher. A moderate and disparate level of trainees' awareness about the cost of common laboratory examinations was disclosed. The avoidable tests/patient/day were significantly decreased after the intervention (mean 1.58, p = 0.002), but containment of unnecessary ordering of tests gradually waned during the semester after the intervention. Repeated audit, continuous education and alertness of doctors, on the basis of assessment of factors contributing to laboratory overutilisation, result in restraining the redundant ordering of tests in the hospital setting.

                Author and article information

                Am J Clin Pathol
                Am. J. Clin. Pathol
                American Journal of Clinical Pathology
                Oxford University Press (US )
                February 2018
                14 February 2018
                14 February 2018
                : 149
                : 3
                : 197-221
                [1 ]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
                [2 ]Carter Consulting, Atlanta, GA
                [3 ]Deloitte Consulting, Atlanta, GA
                [4 ]Pennsylvania State University, State College
                [5 ]Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute, San Juan Capistrano, CA
                Author notes
                Corresponding author: Matthew Rubinstein, MS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MS-G23, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333; ksr3@ 123456cdc.gov .
                © American Society for Clinical Pathology, 2018.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com

                Page count
                Pages: 25
                Funded by: CDC
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