Choosing Wisely campaign targets waste and overuse in hospital pediatrics



“Health care spending and health care waste is a huge problem in the U.S., including for children,” Vivian Lee, MD, of Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles, said in a presentation at the 2021 virtual Pediatric Hospital Medicine conference.

Dr. Vivian Lee, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles

Dr. Vivian Lee

Data from a 2019 study suggested that approximately 25% of health care spending in the United States qualifies as “wasteful spending,” in categories such as overtesting, and unnecessary hospitalization, Dr. Lee said. “It is essential for physicians in hospitals to be stewards of high-value care,” she emphasized.

To combat wasteful spending and control health care costs, the Choosing Wisely campaign was created in 2012 as an initiative from the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation. An ongoing goal of the campaign is to raise awareness among physicians and patients about potential areas of low-value services and overuse. The overall campaign includes clinician-driven recommendations from multiple medical organizations.

The PHM produced its first set of five recommendations in 2012, Dr. Lee said. These recommendations, titled “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question,” have been updated for 2021. The updated recommendations were created as a partnership among the Academic Pediatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society of Hospital Medicine. A joint committee reviewed the latest evidence, and the updates were approved by the societies and published by the ABIM in January 2021.

“We think these recommendations truly reflect an exciting and evolving landscape for pediatric hospitalists,” Dr. Lee said. “There is a greater focus on opportunities to transition out of the hospital sooner, or avoid hospitalization altogether. There is an emphasis on antibiotic stewardship and a growing recognition of the impact that overuse may have on our vulnerable neonatal population,” she said. Several members of the Choosing Wisely panel presented the recommendations during the virtual presentation.

Revised recommendations

The new “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question” are as follows:

1. Do not prescribe IV antibiotics for predetermined durations for patients hospitalized with infections such as pyelonephritis, osteomyelitis, and complicated pneumonia. Consider early transition to oral antibiotics.

Many antibiotic doses used in clinical practice are preset durations that are not based on high-quality evidence, said Mike Tchou, MD, of Children’s Hospital of Colorado in Aurora. However, studies now show that earlier transition to enteral antibiotics can improve a range of outcomes including neonatal UTIs, osteomyelitis, and complicated pneumonia, he said. Considering early transition based on a patient’s response can decrease adverse events, pain, length of stay, and health care costs, he explained.

2. Do not continue hospitalization in well-appearing febrile infants once bacterial cultures (i.e., blood, cerebrospinal, and/or urine) have been confirmed negative for 24-36 hours, if adequate outpatient follow-up can be assured.

Recent data indicate that continuing hospitalization beyond 24-36 hours of confirmed negative bacterial cultures does not improve clinical outcomes for well-appearing infants admitted for concern of serious bacterial infection, said Paula Soung, MD, of Children’s Wisconsin in Milwaukee. In fact, “blood culture yield is highest in the first 12-36 hours after incubation with multiple studies demonstrating > 90% of pathogen cultures being positive by 24 hours,” Dr. Soung said. “If adequate outpatient follow-up can be assured, discharging well-appearing febrile infants at 24-36 hours after confirming cultures are negative has many positive outcomes,” she said.


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