Impact of the acute care nurse practitioner in reducing the number of unwarranted daily laboratory tests in the intensive care unit

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Abstract

Background:

Frequent laboratory testing may be necessary at times for critically ill patients. However, the practice of indiscriminate laboratory test ordering is common.

Purpose:

The purpose of this quality improvement project was to assess the effectiveness of the acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) in reducing the number of unwarranted laboratory tests ordered for ICU patients. To determine whether the presence of an ACNP would make a difference, an ACNP was present on daily ICU multidisciplinary rounds to facilitate the discussion of the laboratory testing needs for each patient for the following 24-hour period.

Conclusions:

Eighty-one patients were enrolled in the project, 41 in the comparison and 40 in the intervention group. No significant differences were noted between the two groups. The project demonstrated that although there was an increase in tests ordered for the intervention group, the increase was brought about by an increase in specific individual tests rather than an increase in panels of laboratory tests. A reduction in patient cost was observed for the number of tests ordered. No increase in adverse events was noted.

Implications for Practice:

Acute care nurse practitioner presence on multidisciplinary rounds may be an effective method to change the practice toward the ordering of tests based on clinical indication.

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