BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Variability in practice patterns and resource use in the emergency department (ED) can affect costs without affecting outcomes. ED quality measures have not included resource use in relation to ED outcomes and efficiency. Our objectives were to develop a tool for comprehensive physician feedback on practice patterns relative to peers and to study its impact on resource use, quality, and efficiency.
METHODS: We evaluated condition-specific resource use (laboratory tests; imaging; antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and ondansetron; admission) by physicians at 2 tertiary pediatric EDs for 4 common conditions (fever, head injury, respiratory illness, gastroenteritis). Resources used, ED length of stay (efficiency measure), and 72-hour return to ED (return rate [RR]) (balancing measure) were reported on scorecards with boxplots showing physicians their practice relative to peers. Quarterly scorecards were distributed for baseline (preintervention, July 2009–August 2010) and postintervention (September 2010–December 2011). Preintervention, postintervention, and trend analyses were performed.
RESULTS: In 51 450 patient visits (24 834 preintervention, 26 616 postintervention) seen by 96 physicians, we observed reduced postintervention use of abdominal and pelvic and head computed tomography scans, chest radiographs, intravenous antibiotics, and ondansetron (P < .01 for all). Hospital admissions decreased from 7.4% to 6.7% (P = .002), length of stay from 112 to 108 minutes (P < .001), and RR from 2.2% to 2.0%. Trends for use of laboratory tests and intravenous antibiotics showed significant reduction (P < .001 and P < .05, respectively); admission trends increased, and trends for use of computed tomography scans and plain abdominal radiographs showed no change.
CONCLUSIONS: Physician feedback on practice patterns relative to peers results in reduction in resource use for several common ED conditions without adversely affecting ED efficiency or quality of care.
- Accepted March 6, 2015.
- Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics