Results from a cost analysis of the Low Risk Ankle Rule (LRAR) suggest savings in the emergency department are possible in the number of x-rays performed on the ankles of injured children, as well as in the costs and time to perform them.

Published recently online in Annals of Emergency Medicine, these results suggest, according to a news release from the American College of Emergency Physicians, emergency physicians can safely reduce the number of x-rays performed on children with injured ankles by as much as 23% and save patients both money and time.

“Currently, x-rays are ordered for up to 95% of children who come to emergency departments with ankle injuries, though only 12% of those x-rays show fractures,” says lead study author Kathy Boutis, MD, MSc, of The Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto, in the release.

“Widespread implementation of the LRAR could lead to a safe reduction of x-rays in children with ankle injuries, reducing unnecessary radiation exposure and healthcare costs,” she adds in the release.

Per the release, researchers compared children with ankle injuries at emergency departments that did and did not use the LRAR. There were 22.9% fewer ankle x-rays and healthcare costs were $36.93 less at emergency departments that used the LRAR, compared with those departments that did not use the rule.

In reducing then number of x-rays, there were no significant differences in the frequency of missed clinically important fractures or in the use of healthcare resources after a patient was discharged from the emergency department, according to the release.

“Our findings are good news for the 2 million American and Canadian children with hurt ankles who visit emergency departments each year: although most currently receive x-rays, many do not actually need them,” Boutis says in the release.

“There are also potential cost savings. In a publicly funded healthcare system, using the LRAR to decide if x-rays are necessary in children with ankle injuries modestly reduced health system costs without increasing patient costs,” she continues.

Boutis notes in the release, however, that in a privately funded healthcare system like the one in the Unites States, the cost savings would likely be realized by the patient or insurer.

[Source(s): American College of Emergency Physicians, Science Daily]