Inappropriate and cloned clinical histories on radiology request forms for sick children
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- Shah, C.C., Linam, L. & Greenberg, S.B. Pediatr Radiol (2013) 43: 1267. doi:10.1007/s00247-013-2648-7
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An appropriate clinical history improves the perception and interpretation of radiographic examinations in children and adults. However, clinical history provided on radiology request has not been studied for its appropriateness and frequency of cloned clinical history.
The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency of inappropriate histories and cloned histories at a tertiary-care children’s hospital.
Materials and methods
We analyzed radiology request forms of 388 outpatient and inpatient radiographic examinations obtained on 3 days during the same month at a tertiary-care children’s hospital. Appropriateness of the clinical history was judged by its relevance to the examination ordered and appropriate associated billable ICD-9 code. Cloning was defined as identical clinical histories appearing on the radiology request on three consecutive days. Cloned histories were further subdivided as being appropriate or inappropriate.
A total of 18% (70/388) of the requests for clinical history were either inappropriate, cloned or both. Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) referrals constituted the majority (82%, 9/11) of combined inappropriate history and cloning. NICU referrals accounted for 52% (28/54) of all inappropriate clinical histories, a significantly higher percentage than other inpatient locations (P = 0.006). The cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) was the second most common patient location for inappropriate clinical histories (11%, 6/54). About one-third of the radiographic requests from the NICU had inappropriate histories (35%, 28/79). Among the outpatient referrals, 50% (4/8) of the inappropriate histories were from the emergency department. The most common cloned histories included “hypoplastic left heart syndrome” (15%, 4/27), “endotracheal tube placement” (11%, 3/27) and “evaluate lung fields and bowel” (11%, 3/27). The most commonly cloned clinical history was seen on referrals from the NICU at 63% (17/27), a significantly higher percentage than other inpatient locations (P = 0.006). The CVICU unit accounted for the second most common patient location for cloned clinical histories (26%, 7/27). The cloned clinical history on the referral request for radiography was unjustified in 48% (13/27) of the cases. NICU referrals had 85% (11/13) of the unjustified cloned histories.
Inpatient units, particularly the NICU, were most likely to have inappropriate histories and cloning. Cloning was clinically justified in about half of the cases of cloning. The patterns of inappropriate histories and cloning suggest possible corrective measures.