Objectives To determine how often unnecessary resting echocardiograms that are “not recommended” by clinical practice guidelines are performed in patients with stable chest pain and normal resting electrocardiograms (ECGs). Background There are scant data to indicate how often Class III recommendations are ignored in clinical practice. Patients and Methods We searched electronically all medical records of referral outpatients seen at Mayo Clinic Rochester from January 1, 2010, through December 31, 2013, to identify patients with stable chest pain and known or suspected coronary artery disease who underwent resting echocardiography and had normal resting ECGs and no other indication for echocardiography. Results Of the 15,529 referral outpatients who were evaluated at Mayo Clinic Rochester with chest pain, 3976 (25.6%) had resting echocardiograms. Eight hundred seventy of these 3976 patients (21.9%) had normal resting ECGs. Six hundred nineteen of these 870 patients (71.1%) had other indications for echocardiography. The remaining 251 patients (6.3% of all echocardiograms and 1.6% of all patients) had normal resting ECGs and no other indication for echocardiography. Two hundred thirty-nine of these 251 patients (95.2%) had normal echocardiograms. Of the 12 abnormal echocardiograms, only 4 led to any change in clinical management. Sixty-one of these 251 echocardiograms (24.3%) were “preordered” before the provider (physicians, nurses, physician assistants) visit. Conclusion Echocardiograms were performed in 1 in 4 referral outpatients with chest pain seen at Mayo Clinic Rochester. However, only 1 in 16 of these echocardiograms was performed in violation of the class III recommendation in the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association guidelines for the management of stable angina. These unnecessary echocardiograms were almost always normal, and had little impact on clinical management. The rate of unnecessary echocardiograms could be decreased by eliminating preordering.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine