OBJECTIVE: To describe the effect of local adaptation of national guidelines combined with active feedback and organisational analysis on the ordering of preoperative investigations for patients at low risk from anaesthetics. DESIGN: Assessment of preoperative tests ordered over one month, before and after local adaptation of guidelines and feedback of results, combined with an organisational analysis. SETTING: Motivated anaesthetists in 15 surgical wards of Bordeaux University Hospital, Region Aquitain, France. SUBJECTS: 42 anaesthetists, 60 surgeons, and their teams. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number and type of preoperative tests ordered in June 1993 and 1994, and the estimated savings. RESULTS: Of 536 patients at low risk from anaesthetics studied in 1993 before the intervention 80% had at least one preoperative test. Most (70%) tests were ordered by anaesthetists. Twice the number of preoperative tests were ordered than recommended by national guidelines. Organisational analysis indicated lack of organised consultations and communication within teams. Changes implemented included scheduling of anaesthetic consultations; regular formal multidisciplinary meetings for all staff; preoperative ordering decision charts. Of 516 low risk patients studied in 1994 after the intervention only 48% had one or more preoperative tests ordered (p < 0.05). Estimated mean (SD) saving for one year if changes were applied to all patients at low risk from anaesthesia in the hospital 3.04 (1.23) mFF. CONCLUSIONS: A sharp decrease in tests ordered in low risk patients was found. The likely cause was the package of changes that included local adaptation of national guidelines, feedback, and organisational change.
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