In my last post, I introduced the surprising complexity of a lumbar puncture — not to complicate a fairly simple bread-and-butter clinical procedure that’s performed in healthcare settings every day, but to help create clarity and understanding, set expectations, and help reduce clicks while delivering a great user experience.
To help understand the complexity of this workflow, I thought I’d share this academic poster, developed by Deandra ‘Uju’ Momah, MS4, an outstandingly talented medical student from UConn Med who I’ve had the honor to work with. At a recent AMIA conference, Uju presented her academic poster which very nicely summarizes the workflow issues:
The take-home point: Diagnostic LPs are not one workflow; they are at least four. (That is, if you carve out intrathecal chemotherapy, epidurals, blood patches, and therapeutic LPs.)
I recently had the opportunity to discuss LPs to an online audience of new Informaticists. Below are some of the slides from my presentation, which I’ll borrow and annotate here for clarity and educational purposes.
First, a review of some of the complexities of designing a Lumbar Puncture order set:
Again, it’s very important to remember that Lumbar Punctures are not just one workflow. So for now, we will focus on the third of those four — the outpatient ID/Specialist LP. In many institutions, this is commonly collected by Interventional Radiology:
Before we can examine this in more detail, I thought I’d share the large (complex) set of stakeholders who all have an interest in how LPs are ordered, performed, and resulted in your organization:
In my current role, I’m very fortunate to be able to work with the great Karen Gurba, RN, an experienced and outstanding Clinical (Nurse) Informaticist with whom I partner to help investigate and design workflows. (Remember, Applied Clinical Informatics is a team sport!) Karen and I have done a number of interviews with the stakeholders in the list above, and through repeated iterations of blueprints, reviews, discussions, and updated blueprints, the picture starts to become more clear.
In each of these cases, there are six main features that almost all clinical staff seem to generally agree on:
- There are some PRE-LP labs that are typically collected 24 hours before the procedure, to help establish that it’s safe to proceed with the lumbar puncture lab. (They often include a simple BMP, CBC, and PT/INR.)
- There are other PRE-LP serology labs typically collected 1 hour before the procedure for diagnostic purposes. (They often include a serum glucose, serum protein, and in some cases, oligoclonal banding.)
- There is the LP procedure order itself, used to schedule the procedure and plan charges for doing the procedure.
- There are four BASIC LP labs that most docs use for general purposes, including a CSF cell count and differential, a CSF gram stain and culture, a CSF glucose, and a CSF protein.
- There are some additional specialty-specific CSF labs, which can be very complex and specialty-specific. (Some of these can be very expensive, and so care should be taken so that they are not ordered unnecessarily or by accident.)
- Finally, there are a limited number of nursing orders, mostly importantly a nursing communication order that allows the ordering provider to give the Interventional Radiology nurses a ‘heads up’ on any unique patient needs.
The problem is, when you have so many specialties needing access to specific labs in #5 above, how exactly do you build this out?
Now I’d like to present a mockup of an Outpatient LP via Interventional Radiology (IR) order set that helps address all of these needs in one coherent order set, and relies on cascading logic to help guide the ordering provider to the best practices for their unique clinical needs. (Pardon my amateur cartooning, which I used to customize my presentation.)
The order set starts with the first clinical decision: Is the ordering provider ordering a Diagnostic LP or a Therapeutic LP?
Let’s say in this case, the provider is ordering a Diagnostic LP:
This then brings up four choices, seen above:
- For Attendings, Fellows and Residents: Routine diagnostic LPs – Mon-Fri 8am-5pm
- For Attendings and Fellows Only: Routine Malignancy Evaluations – Mon-Thurs 8am-12pm
- For Attendings and Fellows Only: Urgent Malignancy Evaluations – Friday-Sunday 8am-12pm
- For Attendings and Fellows Only: Prion Disease Evaluations – Mon-Fri 8am-5pm
This gives us the opportunity not only to confirm the role of the ordering provider, but also to stratify the routine diagnostic workflow from the more complex workflows that require additional notifications or supervision before ordering. This helps us to make sure that unnecessary orders are not added to the workup.
In this case, clicking the first option (Routine Diagnostic Lumbar Punctures) would then produce the list of specialties that commonly use this order set:
And here, if an Infectious Disease provider were to click their section, the order set can now produce the tailored, specialty-specific orders that the provider needs:
Using this naming convention and design, we now know:
- Scenario = Specialty, outpatient LP for collection in IR
- LP type = Diagnostic
- User = Attending, Fellow, or Resident
- Specialty = Infectious Disease
And so now, the order set can allow a tailored, specialty-specific palette of orders that are most commonly used for the user’s needs.
And with that, a significant reduction in clicks and improvement in utilization, diagnostic accuracy, and diagnostic yield.
We are now working with our department Chiefs to help confirm the final orders (to appear in the fifth section of each specialty-specific area). Perhaps once they are completed, I can publish the final result here.
Until then, I hope this helps you develop your own strategy for ordering Lumbar Punctures! If you have any secrets or feedback, please feel free to share.