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Evaluating Two Measures of Lumbar Spine MRI Overuse: Administrative Data Versus Chart Review.

Avoundjian T, Gidwani R, Yao D, Lo J, Sinnott P, Thakur N, Barnett PG. Evaluating Two Measures of Lumbar Spine MRI Overuse: Administrative Data Versus Chart Review. Journal of the American College of Radiology : JACR. 2016 Sep 1; 13(9):1057-66.

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PURPOSE: Lumbar spine (LS) MRI overuse may be identified in administrative data, but these data may lack the detailed clinical information needed to correctly assess overuse. The aim of this study was to compare chart review with analysis of administrative data to determine the appropriateness of LS MRI. METHODS: The sensitivity and specificity of the administrative method were determined, with inappropriateness regarded as the positive result, as if chart review determined the true state. Patients were the first 146 veterans who underwent LS MRI in the outpatient setting in fiscal year 2012 at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. The InterQual criteria for chart review and the method of evaluating administrative data developed by CMS and endorsed by the National Quality Forum were used. Slight modifications were made to each measure to ensure completeness and comparability. RESULTS: Of the 146 scans reviewed, 23% were considered inappropriate by the administrative measure, whereas 59% were considered inappropriate by chart review. Compared with chart review, the administrative measure had specificity of 82% for identifying inappropriate scans and sensitivity of 27% for identifying appropriate scans. CONCLUSIONS: Compared with chart review, analysis of administrative data identified scans that were appropriate but underestimated inappropriate ordering. Contrary to expectations, chart review resulted in more scans being classified as inappropriate. The administrative method is economically feasible for identifying the overuse of LS MRI, but it underestimates the true extent of inappropriate ordering.

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