Colleague Feedback Influences Physician Test Ordering

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A reduction in the number of unnecessary ordered tests can result when physicians receive feedback from fellow doctors, according to a study published in the Journal of Urology.

Led by a consortium of urological surgeons in several Midwestern states and Virginia, the study involved an investigation of diagnostic practices by physicians treating 858 patients with early-, middle, or late-stage prostate cancer.

At the beginning of the study, many doctors initially ordered CT or bone scans to determine whether their patients’ cancer had metastasized to other parts of the body. This was true even of patients in whom the disease was in its early stages and therefore not likely to have spread beyond the prostate. A total of 31% of patients in the low- and medium-risk categories received CT scans for signs of metastasis, while 28% underwent bone scans.

However, input from colleagues and training in professional guidelines that cover when such tests are warranted led the participating physicians to change course. At the conclusion of the 16-month study, they were ordering CT scans on a mere 16% of low- or medium-risk patients and bone scans for only 13% of that same patient population.

To read the abstract, click here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21788043