Context: Clinical pathology (CP) laboratories are used for millions of tests each year. These lead to thousands of calls to CP residents. However, although laboratory utilization is a frequent topic of study, clinical utilization--the content of the interactions between clinicians and CP residents--is not. Because it reflects questions about laboratory utilization, clinical utilization could suggest ways to improve both training and care by reducing diagnostic error.
Objectives: To build and implement a secure, scalable Web-based system to allow CP residents at any hospital to track the calls they receive, the interaction's context, and the action taken as a result, with evidence where applicable, and to use this system to report on clinical utilization at a major academic hospital.
Design: Entries were analyzed from a nearly year-long period to describe the clinical utilization of CP at a large academic teaching hospital.
Results: Sixteen residents logged 847 calls during 10 months, roughly evenly distributed among transfusion medicine, chemistry, microbiology, and hematopathology. Calls covered 94 different analytes in chemistry and 71 different organisms or tests in microbiology. Analysis revealed areas where CP can improve clinical care through educating the clinical services, for example, about ordering Rh immune globulin, testosterone testing, and diagnosis of tick-borne diseases. Documenting calls also highlighted patterns among residents.
Conclusions: Clinical utilization is a potentially rich knowledge base for improving patient care and resident training. Our resident call-tracking system is a useful way for measuring clinical utilization and mining it for actionable information.