Effectively reducing amylase testing using computer order entry in the emergency department: quality improvement without eliminating physician choice

Cassie Jaeger, Paul Sullivan, James Waymack, David Griffen Griffen


Background Amylase and lipase, pancreatic biomarkers, are measured in acute pancreatitis diagnosis. Since amylase testing does not add diagnostic value, lipase testing alone is recommended. Despite new recommendations, many physicians and staff continue to test both amylase and lipase.

Objective To reduce unnecessary diagnostic testing in acute pancreatitis.

Methods The pre-checked amylase test within the Emergency Department’s Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) abdominal pain order set was changed to an un-checked state, but kept as an option to order with a single click. Amylase testing, lipase testing and cost were measured for one year pre and post intervention.

Results Simple de-selection intervention reduced redundant amylase testing from 71% to 9%, resulting in a percent of decrease of 87% and an annualized saving of approximately $719,000 in charges.

Conclusion CPOE de-selection is an effective tool to reduce non-value added activity and reduce cost while maintaining quality patient care and physician choice.


amylase; cost analysis; computerized physician order entry system

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14236/jhi.v24i3.907


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