Computer-assisted interventions in the clinical laboratory process improve the diagnosis and treatment of severe vitamin B12 deficiency

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Abstract

Background:

Severe vitamin B12 deficiency can result in serious complications if undiagnosed or untreated. Our aim was to test the efficacy of interventions in the laboratory process to improve the detection and the treatment of severe vitamin B12 deficiency.

Methods:

Quasi-experimental investigation with a retrospective 7-year pre-intervention period and 29-month post-intervention follow-up in a university hospital. Two interventions were designed to improve the detection and treatment of subjects with vitamin B12 deficiency: the laboratory information system (LIS) automatically added seru vitamin B12 (s-vitamin B12) based on certain conditions; and created a comment in the report and scheduled an appointment with the general practitioner (GP). We calculated the number of new diagnoses of severe vitamin deficiency (s-vitamin B12 <73.8 pmol/L) and the proportion of identified patients that were correctly treated in the pre- and post-intervention periods. We compared the number of tests needed to detect a new case when ordered by GPs vs. added by the strategy. Finally, we investigated the economic cost of each new case.

Results:

The strategy added 699 s-vitamin B12 and detected 66 new cases of severe vitamin deficiency. The number of tests needed to identify a new case when s-vitamin B12 was ordered by GPs was 187, as opposed to 10 when added through the intervention (p<0.001). The intervention reagent cost was €26.7 per new case. In the post-intervention cohort, 88% of patients were correctly treated, as opposed to 52% in the pre-intervention (p<0.001).

Conclusions:

Interventions in the clinical laboratory process improved the diagnosis and treatment of severe vitamin B12 deficiency.

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