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Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association

Improved surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma with a primary care-oriented clinical reminder.


PMID 24813175

Abstract

Surveillance of patients with cirrhosis for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with liver ultrasound every 6 months has been linked to longer survival and greater use of definitive treatment. However, less than 20% of patients typically undergo routine surveillance. We conducted a quasi-experimental study to assess whether a primary care-oriented, point-of-care clinical reminder improves HCC surveillance. Our study included patients with cirrhosis who made 1 or more primary care visits to 8 Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities over 18 months. Clinicians at 1 facility were sent a reminder to perform liver ultrasound assessments for patients with cirrhosis who had not received surveillance in the preceding 6 months. Outcomes included the proportion of patients receiving adequate HCC surveillance (defined as >2 instances of liver imaging >6 months apart) and HCC diagnosis and stage. Because it was a quality improvement project, this study did not require approval by an institutional review board under Federal law and VA policy. Baseline rates of adequate HCC surveillance were similar at all facilities (18.2% at the intervention site vs 16.1% elsewhere; P = .23). After the reminder was implemented, adequate surveillance at the intervention site (for 790 patients) increased by 51%, but was unchanged at the other facilities (for 2094 patients) (27.6% vs 17.5%; P < .001). Adequate surveillance occurred more often at the intervention site (adjusted odds ratio, 1.29; 95% confidence interval, 1.03-1.61; P = .02). A higher crude percentage of patients was diagnosed with HCC at the intervention site than elsewhere (3.2% vs 1.9%; P = .03). We detected no difference in tumor stage at diagnosis. In a VA population, a clinical reminder system increased HCC surveillance in patients with cirrhosis.

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