Background: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) clinical guidelines and subsequent NICE issued 'recommendation reminders' advocate discontinuing two fertility procedures and caesarean sections in women with hepatitis. We assess whether NICE guidance in 2004 and recommendation reminders were associated with a change in the rate of clinical procedures performed.
Methods: Routine inpatient Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data were extracted from the HES database for 1st April 1998 to 31st March 2010 using OPCS procedure codes for varicocele operations in infertile men, endometrial biopsies in infertile women and caesarean sections in women with hepatitis B or C. We used Joinpoint regression to identify points in time when the trend in procedure rates changed markedly, to identify any influence of the release of NICE guidance.
Results: Between 1998-2010, planned caesarean sections in women with and without hepatitis B or C increased yearly (annual percentage change (APC) 4.9%, 95% CI 2.1% to 7.7%) in women with hepatitis, compared with women without (APC 4.0% [95% CI 2.7% to 5.3%] up to 2001, APC -0.6% [95% CI -2.8% to 1.8%] up to 2004 and 1.3% [95% CI 0.8% to 1.8%] up to 2010). In infertile women under 40 years of age, endometrial biopsies for investigation of infertility increased, APC 6.0% (95% CI 3.6% to 8.4%) up to 2003, APC 1.5% (95% CI -4.3% to 7.7%) to 2007 followed by APC 12.8% (95% CI 1.0% to 26.0%) to 2010. Varicocele procedures remained relatively static between 1998 and 2010 (APC -0.5%, 95% CI -2.3% to 1.3%).
Conclusions: There was no decline in use of the three studied procedures, contrary to NICE guidance, and no change in uptake associated with the timing of NICE guidance or recommendation reminders. 'Do not do' recommendation reminders may be ineffective at improving clinical practice or achieving disinvestment.