Between January and October 2014, Great Ormond Street Hospital Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) was spending an average £23,392 on blood tests per month. Blood tests should be requested based on previous results and the patient's clinical condition, medication and nutritional status. However, more blood tests were being ordered than clinically indicated: an audit in October 2014 showed liver function tests (LFTs) were requested daily on most patients, even with previous normal results.
A driver diagram identified three primary drivers for blood test requesting: decision-making, situational awareness and computer-based ordering. Decision-making for routine blood tests was the responsibility of the bedside nurses on each night shift. The communication between the nurses and doctors was an identified secondary driver. The project's primary aim was to reduce unnecessary LFTs requests on PICU over 6 months by implementing a blood test request form, a table of common investigations to facilitate and document discussion between the nursing and medical teams. The secondary aims were to reduce other unnecessary blood test requests, including full blood counts (FBC), coagulation screens and CRP.
This project was conducted in three phases: construction, testing and implementation of the blood test form. PDSA cycles were used within each phase. Two PICU nurse champions were engaged to provide bedside support, education and feedback.
In the 8-month period following implementation, there was a significant sustained reduction in LFTs requests. A similar pattern of sustained reduction also occurred for FBC, coagulation screens and CRP requests. This sustained reduction in blood tests requested equated to a saving in excess of £36,000.
This project was successful: the reduction in the number of inappropriate blood tests had clear financial benefit for PICU and reduced blood loss for patients. Early engagement and support from key stakeholders avoided conflict, guaranteed data sharing and aided engagement of bedside nurses.
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