From the Journals

Automated algorithm improves HIV/HCV screening in the ED



More patients had newly diagnosed HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection during an automated-laboratory-order HIV/HCV screening algorithm than with a nurse-order HIV/HCV screening algorithm, according to the results of a retrospective before/after comparison study of the two electronic health record (EHR)–based protocols.

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The results of nurse-order HIV/HCV screening in the 5-month period of March 1, 2016, through July 31, 2016, were compared to the subsequently adopted automated-laboratory-order system results from March 1, 2017, through July 31, 2017, according to Douglas A.E. White, MD, and his colleagues at Highland Hospital Emergency Department, Oakland, Calif.

Via the EHR, nurses were instructed to offer screening to all adults aged 18-75 years unless they were known to be HIV- or HCV-positive, unable to verbally consent (e.g., language barriers, intoxication), or medically unstable. Exclusion was at the discretion of the triage nurse. Using a drop-down menu, nurses could choose “accepts” or “declines” for HIV and HCV testing, according to patient response. Choosing “accepts” automatically ordered the test, according to the report (Ann Emerg Med. 2018 Oct;72[4]:438-48).

Automated-laboratory-order HIV/HCV screening was integrated into clinical care. With this protocol, the EHR-automated annual HIV/hepatitis C virus screening was performed on adult patients aged 18-75 years who had laboratory tests ordered. The EHR was configured to automatically order an HIV or HCV test for age-eligible patients who had any test ordered that required laboratory processing of whole blood (excluding point-of-care tests such as for lactate or glucose level) or a urine or urethral swab for chlamydia or gonorrhea testing, according to the researchers.

There were 20,975 and 19,887 unique, age-eligible patients during the nurse-order HIV/HCV virus screening algorithm and automated-laboratory-order HIV/HCV screening algorithm study periods, respectively. A total of 4,121 patients (19.6%) were screened for HIV and 2,968 (14.2%) patients were screened for HCV during the nurse-order period vs. 6,736 (33.9%) patients screened for HIV and 6,972 (35.1%) screened for HCV during the automated-laboratory-order period.

Overall, HIV screening increased from 19.6% to 33.9% and HCV screening, from 14.2% to 35.1% using the automated vs. the nurse-ordered EHR-based algorithm.

“An automated electronic health record algorithm that links nontargeted opt-out HIV and hepatitis C virus screening to physician laboratory ordering more effectively screens ED patients, provides results before discharge, minimizes repeated screening, and diagnoses more new infections than an algorithm that relies on nursing staff to offer screening. Because most EDs in the United States now use EHR systems, this model can be easily replicated and should be considered the standard for future programs,” the researchers concluded.

This work was supported, in part, by grant funding through the FOCUS program, Gilead Sciences, which also has provided funding to various of the authors of the study.

SOURCE: White DAE et al. Ann Emerg Med. 2018 Oct;72[4]:438-48.

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