Original Article

CME Article: Telemetry Overuse and the Effect of Educational and Electronic Health Record-Based Interventions on an Academic Internal Medicine Ward

Authors: Peter Caldwell, MD, Logan Davies, MD, Martin White, MD, P. Adam Kelly, PhD, Jonathan Orner, MD


Objectives: Guidelines for appropriate use of telemetry recommend monitoring for specific patient populations; however, many hospitalized patients receive telemetry monitoring without an indication. Clinical data and outcomes associated with nonindicated monitoring are not well studied. The objectives of our study were to evaluate the impact of an education and an order entry intervention on telemetry overuse and to identify the diagnoses and telemetry-related outcomes of patients who receive telemetry monitoring without guidelines indication.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study of hospitalized patients on internal medicine (IM) wards between 2015 and 2018 examining the effects of educational and order entry interventions at an academic urban medical center. A baseline cohort examining telemetry use was established. This was followed by the delivery of IM resident educational sessions regarding telemetry guidelines. In a subsequent intervention, the telemetry order entry system was modified with a constraint to require American Heart Association guidelines justification.

Results: Across all of the cohorts, 51% (n = 141) of patients lacked a guidelines-specified indication. These patients had variable diagnoses. The educational intervention alone did not result in significant differences in telemetry use by IM residents. The order entry intervention resulted in a significant increase in the proportion of guidelines-indicated patients and a decrease in nonindicated patients on telemetry. No safety events were noted in any group.

Conclusions: A telemetry order entry system modification implemented following an educational intervention is more likely to reduce telemetry use than an educational intervention alone in IM resident practice. A variety of patients are monitored without evidence of need; therefore, the clinical impact of telemetry reduction is unlikely to be harmful.

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