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Teaching cost-conscious medicine: impact of a simple educational intervention on appropriate abdominal imaging at a community-based teaching hospital

Teaching cost-conscious medicine: impact of a simple educational intervention on appropriate abdominal imaging at a community-based teaching hospital

Journal of Graduate Medical Education 5(2): 284-288

Rising costs pose a major threat to US health care. Residency programs are being asked to teach residents how to provide cost-conscious medical care. An educational intervention incorporating the American College of Radiology appropriateness criteria with lectures on cost-consciousness and on the actual hospital charges for abdominal imaging was implemented for residents at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, CA. We hypothesized that residents would order fewer abdominal imaging examinations for patients with complaints of abdominal pain after the intervention. We analyzed the type and number of abdominal imaging studies completed for patients admitted to the inpatient teaching service with primary abdominal complaints for 18 months before (738 patients) and 12 months following the intervention (632 patients). There was a significant reduction in mean abdominal computed tomography (CT) scans per patient (1.7-1.4 studies per patient, P < .001) and total abdominal radiology studies per patient (3.1-2.7 studies per patient, P  =  .02) following the intervention. The avoidance of charges solely due to the reduction in abdominal CT scans following the intervention was $129 per patient or $81,528 in total. A simple educational intervention appeared to change the radiologic test-ordering behavior of internal medicine residents. Widespread adoption of similar interventions by residency programs could result in significant savings for the health care system.

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Accession: 056127880

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 24404274

DOI: 10.4300/jgme-d-12-00117.1

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