Critical Care Societies Collaborative – Critical Care

View all recommendations from this society

Released January 28, 2014

Don’t order diagnostic tests at regular intervals (such as every day), but rather in response to specific clinical questions.

Many diagnostic studies (including chest radiographs, arterial blood gases, blood chemistries and counts and electrocardiograms) are ordered at regular intervals (e.g., daily). Compared with a practice of ordering tests only to help answer clinical questions, or when doing so will affect management, the routine ordering of tests increases health care costs, does not benefit patients and may in fact harm them. Potential harms include anemia due to unnecessary phlebotomy, which may necessitate risky and costly transfusion, and the aggressive work-up of incidental and non-pathological results found on routine studies.


These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

This document was prepared as an initiative of the Critical Care Societies Collaborative, which includes the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Thoracic Society and the Society of Critical Care Medicine. Each of these four societies was invited to nominate up to three members to join the taskforce. The final taskforce included 10 members representing all four societies and the disciplines of internal medicine, surgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine and critical care nursing. Taskforce members initially proposed 58 items for consideration. The taskforce evaluated each item on five criteria (evidence, prevalence, cost, relevance, innovation), and agreed to narrow the list to 16 items. The taskforce debated the conceptual merits of these 16, and selected nine in which to pursue in-depth evidence reviews and consultations with external content experts. Taskforce members then independently scored each item on a scale from 1-9, rating each item on its overall impact as well as on each of the five criteria. The five items with the best mean overall scores were retained in the “penultimate” list. The taskforce then reviewed and edited the wording of items on the penultimate list, and submitted it to the 4 societies’ executive committees. The executive committees sought feedback from additional experts in the field, debated the items, and provided written comments to the taskforce. The taskforce deliberated and incorporated these suggestions where appropriate to create the final list, resolving any conflicts through discussion. All four societies endorsed the final list.

Members of the taskforce were: Scott D. Halpern, MD, PhD (Chair), Deborah Becker, PhD, RN, J. Randall Curtis, MD, MPH, Robert Fowler, MD, Robert Hyzy, MD, Jeremy M. Kahn, MD, MSc, Lewis Kaplan, MD, Nishi Rawat, MD, Curtis Sessler, MD and Hannah Wunsch, MD, MSc.

The disclosure and conflict of interest policies for the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, American College of Chest Physicians, the American Thoracic Society and the Society of Critical Care Medicine can be found at www.accn.org, www.chestnet.org,www.thoracic.org and www.sccm.org respectively.

Sources

Flabouris A, Bishop G, Williams L, Cunningham M. Routine blood test ordering for patients in intensive care. Anaesth Intensive Care. 2000;28(5):562–5.

Ganapathy A, Adhikari NKJ, Spiegelman J, Scales DC. Routine chest x-rays in intensive care units: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Crit Care. 2012;16(2):R68.

May TA, Clancy M, Critchfield J, Ebeling F, Enriquez A, Gallagher C, Genevro J, Kloo J, Lewis P, Smith R, Ng VL. Reducing unnecessary inpatient laboratory testing in a teaching hospital. Am J Clin Pathol. 2006;126(2):200–6.