Agreement between routine emergency department care and clinical decision support recommended care in patients evaluated for mild traumatic brain injury

Authors: Korley FK, Morton MJ, Hill PM, Mundangepfupfu T, Zhou T, Mohareb AM, Rothman RE.

OBJECTIVE: Emergency department (ED) computed tomography (CT) use has increased significantly during the past decade. It has been suggested that adherence to clinical decision support (CDS) may result in a safe decrease in CT ordering. In this study, the authors quantified the percentage agreement between routine and CDS-recommended care and the anticipated consequence of strict adherence to CDS on CT use in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

METHODS:
This was a prospective observational study of patients with mTBI who presented to an urban academic ED of a tertiary care hospital. Patients 18 years or older, presenting within 24 hours of nonpenetrating trauma to the head, from August 2010 to July 2011, were eligible for enrollment. Structured data forms were completed by trained research assistants (RAs). The primary outcome was the percentage agreement between routine head CT use and CDS-recommended head CT use. CDS examined were: the 2008 American College of Emergency Physicians neuroimaging, the New Orleans rule, and the Canadian head CT rule. Differences between outcome groups were assessed using the chi-square test for categorical variables and the Kruskal-Wallis rank test for continuous variables. The percentage agreement between routine practice and CDS-recommended practice was calculated.
RESULTS:
Of the 169 patients enrolled, 130 (76.9%) received head CT scans, and five of the 130 (3.8%) had acute traumatic intracranial findings. For all subjects, agreement between routine practice and CDS-recommended practice was 77.5, 65.7, and 78.1%, for the ACEP, Canadian, and New Orleans CDS, respectively. Strict adherence to the 2008 ACEP neuroimaging CDS would result in no statistically significant difference in head CT use (routine care, 76.9%; CDS-recommended, 82.8%; p = 0.17). Strict adherence to the New Orleans CDS would result in an increase in head CT use (routine care, 76.9%; CDS-recommended, 94.1%; p < 0.01). Strict adherence to the Canadian CDS would result in a decrease in head CT use (routine care, 76.9%; CDS-recommended, 56.8%; p < 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS:
There is a 60% to 80% agreement between routine and CDS-recommended head CT use. Of the three CDS systems examined, the only one that may result in a reduction in head CT use if strictly followed was the Canadian head CT CDS. Further studies are needed to examine reasons for the less than optimal agreement between routine care and care recommended by the Canadian head CT CDS.

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Acad Emerg Med. 2013 May;20(5):463-9. doi: 10.1111/acem.12136.
© 2013 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.