Predictive Variables for Abnormal Comprehensive Metabolic Panel Testing and Potential Cost Savings in Children Receiving Pediatric Emergency Department Care

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The aim of this study was to determine variables predictive of abnormal comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) results in pediatric emergency department (PED) patients and the potential cost savings of a basic metabolic panel (BMP) versus a CMP.


This is a retrospective cross-sectional descriptive study of children (<18 y) at an urban academic PED (annual census, 22,000). Clinical data included 12 clinical variables: right upper quadrant pain, overdose, emesis, liver disorder, malignancy, heart disease, bleeding disorder, jaundice, right upper quadrant tenderness, hepatomegaly, ascites/peripheral edema and shock, and the liver function test (LFT) results not in a BMP (alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, total bilirubin, total protein, and albumin).


There were 207 children in the study population. The mean age was 8 years. There were 106 boys (51%).


Variables significantly associated with abnormal LFT result were history of liver disease (P = 0.007), history of heart disease (P = 0.040), jaundice (P = 0.045), and hepatomegaly (P = 0.048). The false-negative rate was 16%. However, of the 10 patients for whom this false-negative rate remained true, the LFT values were marginally abnormal, and performance of further investigation of these results was minimal to none. There were 66 patients with no clinical variables and normal CMP results. With a cost difference of $21 between BMP and CMP, this gives a potential savings of $7125 if extrapolated for 1 year in our PED.


Limiting testing to a BMP for patients with none of the 12 clinical variables has the potential annual cost savings of $7125.

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