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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Using the Electronic Medical Record to Reduce Unnecessary Ordering of Coagulation Studies for Patients with Chest Pain


Objectives: Our goal was to reduce ordering of coagulation studies in the emergency department (ED) that have no added value for patients presenting with chest pain. We hypothesized this could be achieved via implementation of a stopgap measure in the electronic medical record (EMR).

Methods: A pre and post quasi-experimental study design was used to evaluate the impact of an EMR-based intervention on coagulation study ordering for patients with chest pain. A simple interactive prompt was incorporated into the EMR of our ED that required clinicians to indicate whether patients were on anticoagulation therapy prior to completion of orders for coagulation studies. Coagulation order frequency was measured before and after intervention via detailed review of randomly sampled encounters during two-month periods before and after intervention. Existing orders were classified as clinically indicated or non-value added. Order frequencies were calculated as percentages and differences between groups were assessed by chi-square analysis.

Results: Pre-intervention, 73.8% (76/103) of patients with chest pain had coagulation studies ordered, of which 67.1% (51/76) were non-value added. Post-intervention, 38.5% (40/104) of patients with chest pain had coagulation studies ordered, of which 60% (24/40) were non-value added. There was an absolute reduction of 35.3% (95% CI: 22.7%, 48.0%) in the total ordering of coagulation studies and 26.4% (95% CI: 13.8%, 39.0%) in non-value added order placement.

Conclusion: Simple EMR-based interactive prompts can serve as effective deterrents to indiscriminate ordering of diagnostic studies.

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