Objective: Laboratory test requests in the emergency department (ED) are increasing worldwide. We evaluated whether a multilevel intervention on the basis of the optimization of test profiles and educational meetings with physicians could reduce the number of tests ordered.
Patients and methods: In a single-center before and after study design, the 8-month intervention period was compared with the 8-month preintervention period. Laboratory test profiles were reduced from 6 to 2 and the number of tests in each profile was reduced by 50%. All physicians received education about the costs and appropriate use of the tests. Primary outcomes were the number of laboratory blood tests and their costs, with a focus on high-cost tests. Secondary outcomes were ED and laboratory performances (patients' waiting time, number of deaths in ED, re-entry, laboratory turn-around time, and add-on tests).
Results: Overall, 61 976 and 61 154 patients were evaluated, respectively, during the intervention and the preintervention period. Laboratory blood test requests were decreased by 207 637 (-36.3%) in the intervention period (P < 0.05), which corresponds to a reduction of 337.3 tests/100 patients. Costs were decreased by 608 079&OV0556; ( - 29.6%, P < 0.05), leading to a cost reduction of 981.2&OV0556;/100 patients. High-cost test requests decreased by 11 457 ( - 27.3%) and contributed toward the overall reduction in costs with 197 206&OV0556; ( - 30.5%). No significant differences were found in ED and laboratory performances between intervention and preintervention periods.
Conclusions: Optimization of test profiles and education on the costs and appropriate use of the tests significantly reduced laboratory test ordering and costs without affecting ED and laboratory performances.