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LO73: A randomized controlled trial of electronic clinical decision support to reduce unnecessary CT imaging for patients with suspected pulmonary embolism

  • J.E. Andruchow (a1), D. Grigat (a1), A.D. McRae (a1), T. Abedin (a1), D. Wang (a1), G. Innes (a1) and E.S. Lang (a1)...

Abstract

Introduction: Utilization of CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA) to rule out pulmonary embolism (PE) has risen dramatically but diagnostic yield has fallen over the past several decades, suggesting that lower risk patients are being tested. Given little evidence to suggest improved patient outcomes with higher CTPA utilization, and increasing evidence of harm, evidence-based guidelines have been developed to reduce unnecessary CTPA use. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of an electronic clinical decision support (CDS) intervention to reduce unnecessary CTPA utilization for emergency department (ED) patients with suspected PE. Methods: This was a cluster-randomized, controlled trial with physicians as the unit of randomization. All emergency physicians (EPs) at 4 urban adult EDs and 1 urgent care center were randomly assigned to receive either evidence-based imaging CDS for patients with suspected PE (intervention) or no CDS (control) over a 1-year study period. CDS was launched in an external web browser whenever an intervention EP ordered a CTPA from the computerized physician order entry software for ED patients CTAS 2-5; however, physician interaction with CDS was voluntary. The CDS tool enabled calculation of patient-specific information, including the patients Wells score, PERC score, and age-adjusted D-dimer, as well as prediction of each patients pre-test risk of PE along with an imaging/no imaging recommendation. CDS recommendations could be printed for the medical record as could educational patient handouts to support physician decision-making. The primary outcome was CTPA utilization for patients with CEDIS chief complaints of shortness of breath or chest pain on the index visit. Secondary outcomes included index visit length of stay (LOS), and CTPA use or VTE diagnosis within 90-days. This study was REB approved. Results: Demographics were similar among intervention and control EPs; however, during a 2-year pre-intervention period control EPs had a higher baseline CTPA rate (8.5% vs 7.7%, p<0.001). In the first 8-months following CDS implementation, 94 intervention EPs saw 9,609 patients and voluntarily interacted with the CDS tool on 43.2% of eligible encounters while 91 control EPs saw 9,498 patients. CTPA utilization was higher among intervention EPs than control (9.6% vs 8.3%, p<0.001) as was ED LOS (302 vs 287 minutes, p<0.001). There was no difference in 90-day CTPA use or VTE diagnoses. Conclusion: In one of the largest RCTs of CDS to date, exposure to CDS was associated with higher rates of CTPA utilization and longer ED LOS on the index visit, and no difference in 90-day CT use or VTE diagnoses. These results differ from a concurrent study of CDS for patients with mild traumatic brain injury in the same physician population and may relate to the implementation of the CDS intervention and/or complexity of the underlying evidence-based algorithms.

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