Despite evidence demonstrating limited benefit, many clinicians continue to perform routine laboratory testing of well-appearing children to medically clear them before psychiatric admission.
We conducted a quality improvement project to reduce routine laboratory testing among pediatric patients requiring admission to our psychiatric unit. We convened key stakeholders whose input informed the modification of an existing pathway and the development of a medical clearance algorithm. Our outcome was a reduction in routine laboratory testing for children requiring psychiatric admission. Our balancing measure was the number of patients requiring transfer from the inpatient psychiatry unit to a medical service. We used run charts to evaluate nonrandom variation and demonstrate sustained change.
Before the introduction of the new medical clearance algorithm, 93% (n = 547/589) of children with psychiatric emergencies received laboratory testing. After implementing the medical clearance algorithm, 19.6% (n = 158/807) of children with psychiatric emergencies received laboratory testing. Despite a decreased rate of routine testing, there were no transfers to the medical service.
Implementing a medical clearance algorithm can decrease routine laboratory testing without increasing transfers to the medical service among children requiring psychiatric admission.