Retrospective Review of Acute Renal Colic Management in the Emergency Department and Review of Guidelines

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Introduction:The influence of multispecialty guidelines on practice patterns in the emergency department is unknown. We documented practice patterns in our emergency department among patients presenting with acute renal colic.Methods:We identified practice patterns in the treatment of nephrolithiasis in our emergency department via a retrospective chart review of 469 patients from 2013 to 2015. We compared practice patterns to available guidelines over the domains of 1) diagnostic and imaging studies, 2) medications and 3) referral to urology.Results:There was a slight preference toward noncontrast computerized tomography (29%) as a single modality imaging study compared to renal ultrasound (26%). Overall 74% of renal ultrasounds were completed at bedside by emergency department physicians. Alpha blockers were used for medical expulsive therapy in 47% of patients. However, 133 patients with ureteral stones did not receive medical expulsive therapy. Only 34% of the total cohort received a urology consultation in the emergency department or subsequent outpatient referral.Conclusions:We noted variability in practice patterns for patients presenting with nephrolithiasis in the emergency department compared to guidelines provided by several professional organizations. There is inconsistent use of imaging studies, underuse of medical expulsive therapy and underuse of urology, highlighting a need for collaborative standardization of a diagnostic and treatment protocol to enhance quality of care.

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