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01.06.2014 | Original Article | Ausgabe 5/2014

Pediatric Cardiology 5/2014

Practice Variation and Resource Use in the Evaluation of Pediatric Vasovagal Syncope: Are Pediatric Cardiologists Over-Testing?

Pediatric Cardiology > Ausgabe 5/2014
Erik R. Johnson, Susan P. Etheridge, L. LuAnn Minich, Tyler Bardsley, Mason Heywood, Shaji C. Menon


Syncope is a common problem in children and adolescents. Usually vasovagal in etiology, this benign problem often results in considerable testing and expense. We sought to define the current practice, practice variation, and resource utilization as well as evaluate a screening strategy for syncope at an academic tertiary care center. We reviewed the medical records of all patients age 8 to 19 years who presented with syncope between January 1994 and January 2012 and collected data regarding demographics, history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. Practice variation was evaluated based on provider experience and subspecialty. The sensitivity and specificity of history, physical examination, and electrocardiogram (ECG) to identify a cardiac cause for syncope were calculated. Of the 617 patients studied, a cardiac cause for syncope was found in 15 (2 %). A screening strategy consisting of history, physical examination, and ECG was 100 % sensitive and 55 % specific for diagnosing a cardiac cause for syncope. Despite having a negative screen, 314 (54 %) patients had a total of 334 additional tests at an average charge of $983/patient. Although practice variation existed, it was not explained by provider experience or electrophysiology training. Factors associated with increased testing included greater number of clinic visits and increased frequency of events, whereas those associated with decreased testing included increased number of syncopal episodes and history of psychiatric medication use. A more standardized approach to syncope is needed to decrease resource use and cost while maintaining quality of care.

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