Application of 2011 American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Society of Echocardiography appropriateness use criteria in hospitalized patients referred for transthoracic echocardiography in a community setting

Piercarlo Ballo, Fabrizio Bandini, Irene Capecchi, Leandro Chiodi, Giuseppe Ferro, Alberto Fortini, Gabriele Giuliani, Giancarlo Landini, Raffaele Laureano, Massimo Milli, Gabriele Nenci, Francesco Pizzarelli, Giovanni Maria Santoro, Pasquale Vannelli, Carlo Cappelletti, Alfredo Zuppiroli
Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography 2012, 25 (6): 589-98

BACKGROUND: A recent American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Society of Echocardiography document updated previous appropriate use criteria (AUC) for echocardiography. The aim of this study was to explore the application of the new AUC, and the resulting appropriateness rate, in hospitalized patients referred for transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) in a community setting.

METHODS: A total of 931 consecutive inpatients referred for TTE were prospectively recruited in five community hospitals. Patients were categorized as having appropriate, uncertain, or inappropriate indications for TTE according to the AUC. An additional group of 259 inpatients, discharged without having been referred for TTE, was also considered.

RESULTS: In the group referred for TTE, the large majority of indications (98.8%) were classifiable according to the AUC with good interobserver reproducibility. Indications were appropriate in 739 patients (80.3%), of uncertain appropriateness in 46 (5.0%), and inappropriate in 135 (14.7%). Compared with patients with appropriate or uncertain indications, those with inappropriate indications were younger and more often referred by noncardiologists. Most common causes of inappropriate indications were related to the lack of changes in clinical status or to the absence of cardiovascular symptoms and signs. Examinations with appropriate or uncertain indications had an impact on clinical decision making more often than those with inappropriate indications (86.7% vs 14.1%, P < .0001). In the group discharged without having been referred for TTE, TTE might have been appropriate in 16.2% of cases.

CONCLUSIONS: Clinical application of the new AUC was highly feasible in a community setting. Although inpatient referral for TTE was appropriate in most patients, strategies aimed at implementing these criteria in clinical practice are desirable.

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