A study, funded by The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in partnership with the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) for the Department of Health, at University Hospital of North Staffordshire and Keele University found over half of key blood test requests from doctors for diabetes patients were inappropriate. The research, which involved over 115,000 patients from North Staffordshire, could now be used to train doctors in better use of blood tests.
Professor Tony Fryer, Professor of Clinical Biochemistry, said: “We found that around 20% of blood tests were taken too soon. This can cause unnecessary anxiety, discomfort and inconvenience to patients, as well as a waste of scarce NHS resources. We also found that 30% of blood tests were taken too late, potentially leading to an increased risk of complications. This means that more than half of all requests for key blood tests in patients with diabetes are inappropriate.
“By changing the culture of blood testing for diabetes patients, we can both improve their treatment and give them a better patient experience. It’s fantastic that research here in North Staffordshire is making a difference worldwide. Clinicians and researchers in the United States have already seized hold of the findings and are looking to see how they can improve their testing. Hopefully clinicians in many more countries will soon be using these findings from University Hospital of North Staffordshire and Keele University.”
The study indicates that guidance on monitoring patients with diabetes is not being followed in the majority of GPs and hospital doctors.
Dr Owen Driskell, NIHR/CSO Healthcare Science Research Fellow, said: “We brought together patients, scientists, doctors and statisticians to try and understand how we could improve care for diabetes patients. We examined all the blood test requests from doctors treating patients with diabetes in North Staffordshire for 10 years, which meant looking at over half a million tests. The study showed that use of the blood tests varied widely from doctor to doctor.
Notes to editors
Professor Fryer is the supervisor of the NIHR Healthcare Scientist Fellowship to Dr Owen Driskell (Senior Clinical Biochemist) for the ‘INvestigating ThE Root Causes of Excessive Replicate pathology Testing (INTERCEPT)’ study. The team also comprises: Mr David Holland, Operations Lead at the National Pathology Benchmarking Service, Dr Fahmy Hanna, Consultant Diabetologist, Professor Peter Jones, Professor of Statistics, Mr John Pemberton, Expert Patient (Diabetes UK) and Mr Martin Tran, Biomedical Scientist.
The abstract of the publication in the US journal Clinical Chemistry, the top international journal for Clinical Biochemistry, can be found at http://www.clinchem.org/content/58/5/906.abstract). Indeed, the journal were so interested in the work that they asked us to summarise it in a short slide presentation as part of their Journal Club programme as a teaching tool (see http://www.aacc.org/publications/clin_chem/JournalClub/Pages/default.aspx). The interview with Professor Fryer for one of their podcasts which are broadcast on The Health Show in the US is not out yet, but will be available shortly at the following link: http://www.aacc.org/publications/clin_chem/podcast/pages/default.aspx# .
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