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Congenital heart surgery, Health expenditures, Medical order entry systems, Pediatric intensive care units



  1. Fisk, Anna C. PhD, RN
  2. Gauvreau, Kimberlee ScD
  3. Connor, Jean A. PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN


Background: Laboratory testing is frequently used to guide postoperative management and contributes to hospital resource utilization; however, there is little evidence identifying patient or clinical factors to inform the appropriate frequency of laboratory testing in the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit.


Objectives: To examine the factors associated with increased laboratory utilization following pediatric congenital heart surgery.


Methods: For each patient, the total number of tests and types of laboratory tests were recorded. Patients whose number of tests was greater than the 90th percentile were categorized as increased laboratory use.


Results: A sample of 250 unique patients and 909 nursing shifts were obtained for patient- and shift-level analyses. The top 10% of patients identified as the high laboratory utilization group (>128 laboratory tests). High-use group reported significantly younger patients and longer bypass time (P < .001). Patients in the highest Risk Adjustment for Congenital Heart Surgery 1 risk category were 34.7 times more likely to be in high laboratory utilization group (P = .006), independent of age at time of surgery and time on bypass (receiver operating characteristic curve = 0.855). At the shift level, time on bypass (P = .002), age younger than 30 days at surgery (P < .001), 3 to 5 years' registered nurse experience (P < .001), staff precepting (P = .03), and weekday shift status (P = .03) were all independently associated with high laboratory utilization.


Conclusions: There are multiple factors associated with increased laboratory utilization. Recognition of specific patient and nursing factors can be used to impact patient management.