Temporal trends in compliance with appropriateness criteria for stress single-photon emission computed tomography sestamibi studies in an academic medical center

Raymond J Gibbons, J Wells Askew, David Hodge, Todd D Miller
American Heart Journal 2010, 159 (3): 484-9

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to apply published appropriateness criteria for single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) in a single academic medical center to determine if the percentage of inappropriate studies was changing over time. In a previous study, we applied the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) appropriateness criteria for stress SPECT MPI and reported that 14% of stress SPECT studies were performed for inappropriate reasons.

METHODS: Using similar methodology, we retrospectively examined 284 patients who underwent stress SPECT MPI in October 2006 and compared the findings to the previous cohort of 284 patients who underwent stress SPECT MPI in May 2005.

RESULTS: The indications for testing in the 2 cohorts were very similar. The overall level of agreement in characterizing categories of appropriateness between 2 experienced cardiovascular nurse abstractors was good (kappa = 0.68), which represented an improvement from our previous study (kappa = 0.56). There was a significant change between May 2005 and October 2006 in the overall classification of categories for appropriateness (P = .024 by chi(2) statistic). There were modest, but insignificant, increases in the number of patients who were unclassified (15% in the current study vs 11% previously), appropriate (66% vs 64%), and uncertain (12% vs 11%). Only 7% of the studies in the current study were inappropriate, which represented a significant (P = .004) decrease from the 14% reported in the 2005 cohort.

CONCLUSIONS: In the absence of any specific intervention, there was a significant change in the overall classification of SPECT appropriateness in an academic medical center over 17 months. The only significant difference in individual categories was a decrease in inappropriate studies. Additional measurements over time will be required to determine if this trend is sustainable or generalizable.

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