Background: Between 2003 and 2012, the number of MRIs performed in Canada more than doubled to 1.7 million . According to a 2010 Health Council of Canada report nearly 30% of MRIs were inappropriately ordered . The use of diagnostic imaging referral guidelines has been shown to improve the appropriateness of imaging orders [3, 4].
Objectives: To identify the number of unnecessary pre-consult MRIs ordered for patients with knee pain. As well, the impact that new evidence-based clinical decision support (DS) guidelines embedded within the referral form has had on the number of unnecessary MRIs was investigated.
Methods: This study employed a retrospective design approach. Charts of all knee pain patients over the age of 55 who were referred for consultation to the 5 participating orthopedic surgeons during the study period were reviewed by three medical students.
Results: 270 patient charts were included in this study. MRI was ordered for 60 patients with only 56.7% having had a prior X-ray. Of the 60 ordered MRIs, 50 (84%) were considered inappropriate, while only 10 (16%) were appropriate. Our results were compared to previous results of a quality improvement study implemented at the same clinic. A substantial reduction of 12% in the number of pre-consult MRIs and a 5% increase in the number of ordered X-rays before consultation was demonstrated.
Conclusion: This work highlights the impact of including DS tools within an electronic referral form to support clinical best practices.
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