New Study on Routine Laboratory Testing for Psychiatric Admissions

A new study about routine laboratory testing for psychiatric admissions, presented by ICSI collaborative member Kurt M. Isenberger, MD, was recently published. Common practice for psychiatric admissions in hospitals usually includes conducting laboratory testing. Most of the time these tests find little to no medical abnormalities, making such testing unnecessary. The study, titled Elimination of Routine Screening Laboratory Tests for Psychiatric Admission: A Quality Improvement Initiative, examined the effects on cost of care and patient safety of a potential change in hospital policies for cases in which routine laboratory testing for such admissions are not required.

The study was retrospective, examining a group of 1,910 patients that included those who had already been tested and admitted to inpatient psychiatry, and those who were admitted without testing. The study primarily measured the number and costs of laboratory tests ordered in the emergency department and during the inpatient hospital stay, as well as hospital consultations during admission, transfers to non-psychiatry hospital services and inpatient deaths.

Results showed that a policy avoiding routine laboratory screening tests for patients admitted to inpatient psychiatry can improve patient care, decrease length of stay and save money without causing harm.

Of ICSI’s role in the study, Dr. Isenberger said, “This is work that was a result of our collaboration made possible with ICSI discussion and system thinking. Thank you.” Dr. Isenberger, Medical Director of Regions Hospital Emergency Department, was part of an ICSI working group of 15 health systems to create and implement evidence-based recommendations for Medical Clearance Evaluation in the ED.

Read more about ICSI’s mental heath work here.