Screening of EEG referrals by neurologists leads to improved healthcare resource utilization

Clin EEG Neurosci. 2006 Jan;37(1):30-3. doi: 10.1177/155005940603700107.


The objective of this study was to determine if screening by a neurologist of all non-neurologist electroencephalogram (EEG) referrals prior to approval reduces the number of inappropriate requests. This retrospective survey included 600 consecutive EEG requisitions referred to the Anaheim Kaiser Permanente Neurodiagnostic Laboratory to rule out epilepsy. Patients with established epilepsy referred for a repeat EEG for management issues were excluded. Three groups of EEG referrals were analyzed. Each group consisted of 200 EEGs (100 pediatric and 100 adult EEGs). The first group was referred directly by non-neurologists, the second group was referred by non-neurologists with scrutiny by a neurologist, and the third group was referred by a neurologist directly. In the pediatric group, the ratio of abnormal EEG vs normal EEG was 1:3.35 in the first group, 1:0.69 in the second group and 1:0.33 in the third group. In the adult group, the ratio of abnormal EEGs vs normal EEGs was 1:2.23 in the first group, 1:0.82 in the second group and 1:0.45 in the third group. In the combined pediatric and adult groups, the ratio of abnormal EEG vs normal EEG was 1:2.70 in the first group, 1:0.75 in the second group and 1:0.39 in the third group. There was a significant difference between the results of the EEGs ordered by non-neurologists directly versus non-neurologists with scrutiny (p=.334, chi-square test). Scrutiny by a neurologist of EEG referrals from non-neurologists led to a reduction in the number of normal EEG results. This suggests that inappropriate EEG requests for non-epileptic patients that yield normal EEG results are significantly reduced with scrutiny. This can help reduce the indiscriminate overuse of EEGs by non-neurologists thereby leading to better utilization of healthcare resources.

MeSH terms

  • California / epidemiology
  • Electroencephalography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Neurology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity