Restricting Daily Chest Radiography in the Intensive Care Unit: Implementing Evidence-Based Medicine to Decrease Utilization

Link to article at PubMed

Scott J, et al. J Am Coll Radiol 2020.


PURPOSE: In this study, the authors applied evidence-based medicine to decrease the utilization of routine chest radiography in adult intensive care units and used time-driven activity-based costing to demonstrate cost savings.

METHODS: A multidisciplinary team was formed with representatives from radiology, surgery, internal medicine, and nursing. The process of performing a portable chest radiographic examination was mapped, and time trials were performed by the radiology technologists and radiology resident. This information was used to determine the cost of performing portable intensive care unit (ICU) chest radiographic studies. The clinical team changed resident education, ordering protocols, and workflows to discontinue the use of routine daily chest radiography, emphasizing that it should be ordered only in specific situations, such as on admission or after central line placement. In addition, as a balancing measure, the team tracked complications such as unplanned extubations and ventilator days.

RESULTS: Changing ordering practices in the adult ICUs to align with established evidence-based guidelines resulted in a 37% decrease in the utilization of portable chest radiography between June and December, without a concomitant increase in unplanned extubations or ventilator days. In addition, a proportionate cost savings was realized, as demonstrated by the application of time-driven activity-based costing.

CONCLUSIONS: This performance improvement initiative successfully increased the value of care delivered to ICU patients by aligning institutional clinical practice with evidence-based medicine. This resulted in decreased utilization and the cost associated with delivering care without a concomitant increase in complications.

PMID:32653273 | DOI:10.1016/j.jacr.2020.05.035

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