The construction and implementation of a clinical decision-making algorithm reduces the cost of adult fracture clinic visits by up to £104,800 per year: a quality improvement study

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION

Inappropriate referrals to the new patient fracture clinic unnecessarily consume hospital resources and many hospitals lack clear guidelines as to what should be referred. Many of these injuries can be definitively managed by the emergency department. Our aim was to construct and disseminate a clinical decision-making algorithm to reduce the frequency of inappropriate referrals to fracture clinics at our institution, to improve the management of patients with minor injuries and save the hospital and the patient the cost of unnecessary visits.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Data were prospectively collected for all new fracture clinic referrals over two separate 1-week cycles with cohorts of 94 and 74 patients, respectively. After the first cycle, the referral algorithm was disseminated both electronically (intranet) and orally (presentations to emergency department staff). The results of this intervention were examined in the second cycle, which took place 6 months after the first cycle.

RESULTS

The introduction of this algorithm significantly reduced inappropriate referrals by almost 20% (P = 0.0445).

DISCUSSION

This simple intervention highlighted a potential annual cost saving of up to £104,000. We advocate the use of this concise algorithm in improving the efficiency of the referral system to fracture clinics.

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