Decreasing Radiograph Errors in Pediatric Sports Medicine Clinic

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Abstract

Background:

Radiographs are frequently ordered for general musculoskeletal complaints in the outpatient setting. However, incorrect laterality, incorrect location, or unnecessary radiographs have been reported as errors in our clinics. This quality improvement (QI) project aimed to reduce incorrect duplicate radiographs in outpatient pediatric sports medicine clinic. The overall global goal was to stop unnecessary radiation exposure in our pediatric patients.

Methods:

Using QI methodology, we evaluated the current clinic flow, the process of ordering radiographs, and the completion of radiographs at the main sports medicine outpatient clinic. Staff communication, staff education, and patient participation were identified as the prominent gaps in our clinic process. We implemented interventions using progressive biweekly Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles to promote change and to reduce our radiographic errors.

Results:

Retrospective baseline data demonstrated baseline errors of 9% (10/106) in the main outpatient clinic. After 6 months of PDSA cycles, we found no duplicate errors. Highly successful interventions included radiograph screening survey for families, staff education, and improved staff communication. The project was expanded to a second outpatient clinic with baseline errors of 6% (4/64). After 2 months of PDSA cycles, no duplicate errors were found.

Conclusion:

Our goal was to reduce incorrect duplicate radiographs in outpatient sports medicine clinic and limit unnecessary radiation exposure in our pediatric patients. A reduction in duplicate errors at 2 clinics occurred using the Institute for Healthcare Improvement model to facilitate change. Effective communication between physicians, clinical athletic trainers, radiology technologists, patients, and families drove the success of this quality improvement initiative.

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