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Qualitative Study to Understand Ordering of CT Angiography to Diagnose Pulmonary Embolism in the Emergency Room Setting.

Gyftopoulos S, Smith SW, Simon E, Kuznetsova M, Horwitz LI, Makarov DV. Qualitative Study to Understand Ordering of CT Angiography to Diagnose Pulmonary Embolism in the Emergency Room Setting. Journal of the American College of Radiology : JACR. 2018 Sep 1; 15(9):1276-1284.

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PURPOSE: To better understand the decision making behind the ordering of CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA) for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE) in the emergency department. METHODS: We conducted semistructured interviews with our institution's emergency medicine (EM) providers and radiologists who read CTPAs performed in the emergency department. We employed the Theoretical Domains Framework-a formal, structured approach used to better understand the motivations and beliefs of physicians surrounding a complex medical decision making-to categorize the themes that arose from our interviews. RESULTS: EM providers were identified as the main drivers of CTPA ordering. Both EM and radiologist groups perceived the radiologist's role as more limited. Experience- and gestalt-based heuristics were the most important factors driving this decision and more important, in many cases, than established algorithms for CTPA ordering. There were contrasting views on the value of d-dimer in the suspected PE workup, with EM providers finding this test less useful than radiologists. EM provider and radiologist suggestions for improving the appropriateness of CTPA ordering consisted of making this process more arduous and incorporating d-dimer tests and prediction rules into a decision support tool. CONCLUSION: EM providers were the main drivers of CTPA ordering, and there was a marginalized role for the radiologist. Experience- and gestalt-based heuristics were the main influencers of CTPA ordering. Our findings suggest that a more nuanced intervention than simply including a d-dimer and a prediction score in each preimaging workup may be necessary to curb overordering of CTPA in patients suspected of PE.

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