Febrile neutropenia in EDs: the role of an electronic clinical practice guideline

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Abstract

Purpose

Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) for managing febrile neutropenia (FN) are widely available; however, the integration of guidelines into routine practice is often incomplete. This study evaluated the uptake and clinical impact of implementing an electronic CPG on the management and outcomes of patients presenting with FN at 4 urban emergency departments (ED).

Methods

A retrospective chart review over a 3-year period at 4 hospitals in Edmonton, Alberta, was performed. Potentially eligible patient visits were identified by searching the Ambulatory Care Classification System database using International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition, codes and ED physician diagnoses of FN. ED patients with fever (>38°C at home or in ED) and neutropenia (white blood cell count of <1000 cells/mm3 or a neutrophil count of <500 cells/mm3) who received an ED diagnosis of FN were included.

Results

From 371 potential cases, 201 unique cases of FN were included. Overall, the electronic CPG was used in 76 (37.8%) of 201 patient visits; however, there were significant differences in CPG utilization between hospitals. Clinical practice guideline usage was greatest at the University of Alberta Hospital (57%). This finding correlated with a decrease in time from triage to first antibiotic by 1 hour compared to the 3 control hospitals (3.9 vs 4.9 hours, P = .022).

Conclusions

The electronic CPG is a useful clinical tool that can improve patient management in the ED, and strategies to increase its utilization in this and other regions should be pursued.

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