Cost Savings Associated with Changes in Routine Laboratory Tests Ordered for Victims of Trauma

Jacobs, Ira A.; Kelly, Kathleen; Valenziano, Carl; Chevinsky, Aaron H.; Pawar, Joanne; Jones, Carol
June 2000
American Surgeon;Jun2000, Vol. 66 Issue 6, p579
Academic Journal
Not all trauma victims evaluated by the trauma service require a full complement of laboratory tests upon admission. This study set out to determine the cost savings and safety of limited laboratory testing of trauma victims. Before 1998, our admission trauma protocol included 11 laboratory tests for all trauma victims. In 1998, we created two categories: Trauma Blue--severe injury likely (Glasgow Coma Score <13; systolic blood pressure <100 mm Hg at any time; significant head, chest, abdominal, or proximal long bone injury; or clinical suspicion of need for operative or intensive care unit management) and Trauma Yellow--severe injury unlikely. The triage decision was made by the team leader or attending physician. Trauma Blue laboratory tests included an arterial blood gas, blood alcohol, type and screen or crossmatch, and urine dipstick. All patients who did not meet Trauma Blue criteria were entered in the Trauma Yellow group. There were only two tests for the Trauma Yellow group, a venous blood gas and blood alcohol. All arterial and venous blood gases measured pH, pO[sub 2], pCO[sub 2], HCO[sub 3], base deficit, hemoglobin, sodium, potassium, and ionized calcium. Other laboratory tests were done if requested by the trauma team leader or attending physician. All trauma admissions for a 3-month period were entered into this prospective study. The admitting trauma surgeon was surveyed after each admission to evaluate any problems in patient care. The test group was compared with a historical control of 100 consecutive patients under the original laboratory trauma protocol. One hundred and forty-eight (148) patients were entered into the study. Average laboratory cost per patient was $29.82 less with the study protocol. No patient care problem was identified. A cost savings of $29.82 per patient or $20,000.00 a year was realized for our institution, with no change in the quality of patient care. Trauma protocols designed to reflect a patient's potential for se...


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