The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of implementing a guideline for the request of chest and abdominal x-ray to reduce unnecessary examinations in nontraumatic pathologic conditions.Methods:
We selected most common chief complaints in nontrauma pathologic conditions at emergency department (ED) and reviewed the available literature to determine the effectiveness of chest and abdominal x-rays for each one. We developed a guideline for the request of x-rays according to the chief complaints, including modulating factors derived from initial clinical evaluation. Guideline implementation was achieved through a multifaceted educational intervention. To evaluate its impact, both in the absolute number and in the adequateness of x-ray requests, we compared data obtained from patients coming to the ED at 2 different time points, October 2004 (preimplementation) and October 2005 (postimplementation).Results:
In the preimplementation period, 52.7% of the patients underwent chest x-rays and 28.0% abdominal x-rays, whereas in the postimplementation period, the proportions decreased to 41.8% and 13.5%, respectively (P < .001 in both cases). The adequateness of x-ray requests improved, as shown by a reduction in the number of inappropriate x-ray examinations (absolute error reduction of 9.2%; 95% confidence interval, 7.7-10.8, and relative error reduction of 59.8%; 95% confidence interval, 49.7-69.8).Conclusions:
In our ED, implementing a specifically designed guideline for the request of chest and abdominal x-ray examinations in nontraumatic pathologic conditions reduced the absolute number of requests and the rate of inappropriate requests.