OBJECTIVES:Â We previously reported the application of the 2005 American College of Cardiology Foundation appropriate use criteria for stress single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging to patients at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) in 2005 and 2006. A subsequent internal quality improvement project focused on physician education in an attempt to reduce the rate of inappropriate SPECT studies.
METHODS:Â Our 2008 physician education effort, focused on 4 specific indications that accounted for 88% of the inappropriate SPECT studies, included a presentation at medical grand rounds, a publication in the staff newsletter, meetings with physician administrators, and focused presentations to departments/divisions with many ordering physicians. We then remeasured the appropriateness of SPECT studies using previously published methods.
RESULTS: The general categories of study indications, eg, after revascularization, were similar in 273 SPECT patients in 2008 and in our 2005 (n=284) and 2006 (n=284) cohorts. There was a trend suggesting a change in the overall classification of appropriateness over time (P=0.08) and a significant change in the rate of inappropriate studies over time (P=0.018). Inappropriate studies decreased from 14.4% in 2005 to 7.0% in 2006 before initiation of the quality improvement project. After completion of the quality improvement project, inappropriate studies increased to 11.7% (P=0.06). The 95% confidence limits for the 4.7% increase in inappropriate studies after the quality improvement project included a decrease of 0.2% and an increase of 9.6%.
CONCLUSIONS: This quality improvement project, focused on feedback, physician education, and remeasurement, did not reduce the rate of inappropriate stress SPECT studies in a single academic medical center. Similar limited interventions focused on physician education alone may have limited benefit. More extensive intervention may be necessary to improve the quality of care with appropriateness criteria.