BMJ Open Qual. 2023 Sep;12(3):e002326. doi: 10.1136/bmjoq-2023-002326.
Hyponatraemia on hospital admission is associated with increased length of stay, healthcare expenditures and mortality. Urine studies collected before fluid or diuretic administration are essential to diagnose the underlying cause of hyponatraemia, thereby empowering admitting teams to employ the appropriate treatment. A multidisciplinary quality improvement (QI) team led by internal medicine residents performed a QI project from July 2020 through June 2021 to increase the rate of urine studies collected before fluid or diuretic administration in the emergency department (ED) in patients admitted with moderate to severe hyponatraemia. We implemented two plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles to address this goal. In PDSA Cycle #1, we displayed an educational poster in employee areas of the ED and met with nursing staff at their monthly meetings to communicate the project and answer questions. We also obtained agreement from ED attending physicians and nursing leaders to support the project. In PDSA Cycle #2, we implemented a structural change in the nursing triage process to issue every patient who qualified for bloodwork with a urine specimen container labelled with a medical record number on registration so that the patient could provide a sample at any point, including while in the waiting area. After PDSA Cycle #1, urine specimen collection increased from 34.5% to 57.5%. After PDSA Cycle #2, this increased further to 59%. We conclude that a combination of educational and structural changes led to a significant increase in urine specimen collection before fluid or diuretic administration among patients presenting with moderate-to-severe hyponatraemia in the ED.