Increased utilization of CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA) for the evaluation of pulmonary embolism has been associated with decreasing diagnostic yields and rising concerns about the harms of unnecessary testing. The objective of this study was to determine whether clinical decision support (CDS) use would be associated with increased imaging yields after controlling for selection bias.
We performed a retrospective cohort study in the emergency departments of two tertiary care hospitals of all CTPAs performed between August 2015 and September 2018. Providers ordering a CTPA are routed to an optional CDS tool, which allows them to use Wells’ Criteria for pulmonary embolism. After propensity score matching, CTPA yield was calculated for the CDS-use and CDS-dismissal groups and stratified by provider type.
A total of 7,367 CTPAs were ordered during the study period. Of those, providers used the CDS tool in 2,568 (35%) cases and did not use the tool in 4,799 (65%) of cases. After propensity score matching, CTPA yield was 11.99% in the CDS-use group and 8.70% in the CDS-dismissal group (P < .001). Attending physicians, residents, and physician assistant CDS users demonstrated a 56.5% (P = .006), 38.7% (P = .01), and 16.7% (P = .03) increased yield compared with those who dismissed the tool, respectively.
Diagnostic yield was 38% higher for CTPAs when the provider used the CDS tool, after controlling for selection bias. Yields were higher for every provider type. Further research is needed to discover successful strategies to increase provider use of these important tools.