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The National Pediatric Cardiology Quality Improvement Collaborative (NPC-QIC) lacks a rigorous enrollment audit process, unlike other collaborative networks. Most centers require individual families to consent to participate. It is unknown whether there is variation across centers or biases in enrollment.
We used the Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium (PC4) registry to assess enrollment rates in NPC-QIC for those centers participating in both registries using indirect identifiers (date of birth, date of admission, gender, and center) to match patient records. All infants born 1/1/2018–12/31/2020 and admitted 30 days of life were eligible. In PC4, all infants with a fundamental diagnosis of hypoplastic left heart or variant or who underwent a surgical or hybrid Norwood or variant were eligible. Standard descriptive statistics were used to describe the cohort and center match rates were plotted on a funnel chart.
Of 898 eligible NPC-QIC patients, 841 were linked to 1,114 eligible PC4 patients (match rate 75.5%) in 32 centers. Match rates were lower in patients of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity (66.1%, p = 0.005), and those with any specified chromosomal abnormality (57.4%, p = 0.002), noncardiac abnormality (67.8%, p = 0.005), or any specified syndrome (66.5%, p = 0.001). Match rates were lower for patients who transferred to another hospital or died prior to discharge. Match rates varied from 0 to 100% across centers.
It is feasible to match patients between the NPC-QIC and PC4 registries. Variation in match rates suggests opportunities for improvement in NPC-QIC patient enrollment.
As part of a quality improvement project beginning in October 2011, our centre introduced changes to reduce radiation exposure during paediatric cardiac catheterisations. This led to significant initial decreases in radiation to patients. Starting in April 2016, we sought to determine whether these initial reductions were sustained.
After a 30-day trial period, we implemented (1) weight-based reductions in preset frame rates for fluoroscopy and angiography, (2) increased use of collimators and safety shields, (3) utilisation of stored fluoroscopy and virtual magnification, and (4) hiring of a devoted radiation technician. We collected patient weight (kg), total fluoroscopy time (min), and procedure radiation dosage (cGy-cm2) for cardiac catheterisations between October, 2011 and September, 2019.
A total of 1889 procedures were evaluated (196 pre-intervention, 303 in the post-intervention time period, and 1400 in the long-term group). Fluoroscopy times (18.3 ± 13.6 pre; 19.8 ± 14.1 post; 17.11 ± 15.06 long-term, p = 0.782) were not significantly different between the three groups. Patient mean radiation dose per kilogram decreased significantly after the initial quality improvement intervention (39.7% reduction, p = 0.039) and was sustained over the long term (p = 0.043). Provider radiation exposure was also significantly decreased from the onset of this project through the long-term period (overall decrease of 73%, p < 0.01) despite several changes in the interventional cardiologists who made up the team over this time period.
Introduction of technical and clinical practice changes can result in a significant reduction in radiation exposure for patients and providers in a paediatric cardiac catheterisation laboratory. These reductions can be maintained over the long term.
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