Gion M, De Gobbi R, Zorzi M, Carretta G, Leonardi L, Guzzinati S, Trevisiol C, Cancian M, Cardinali G, Michieletto F, Dittadi R, Fabricio ASC, Rugge M, Russo F.

Int J Biol Markers. 2023 Feb 28:3936155231154663. doi: 10.1177/03936155231154663. 

Purpose: The overuse of laboratory tests contributes to impair health systems effectiveness, tumor markers (TMs) being a paradigmatic example. In the present study we applied indicators of TMs appropriateness developed from administrative datasets to appraise regionwide overordering in the clinical practice.

Patients and methods: TMs ordered to outpatients in the Veneto Region over 6 years were obtained from the eletronic Outpatients' Records of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures. TMs orders were examined as aggregated data or stratified according to disease codes, gender, age, and requests per patient. TMs recommended only for specific malignancies were examined using epidemiological data obtained from Veneto Tumor Registry.

Results: A total of 5,821,251 TMs were ordered in 4,382,159 patients over 6 years. Overall, 3,252,389 (55.9%) TMs were ordered without appropriate disease codes (ranging from 77.0% for PSA to 17.5% for CA15.3). TM orders declined over 6 years (-13.4%), with a noticeable reduction of orders without appropriate disease codes (-21.3%). Orders decreased sharply from 2015 to 2016, after the enactment of a national Decree-Law aimed at improving appropriateness, and remained stable thereafter. However, the rate of inappropriate TMs requests still remained elevated (44.4%) in the last year of observation, with orders of TMs being much higher than expected on the basis of prevalence and incidence figures of specific malignancies.

Conclusions: Indicators developed from administrative datasets were effective in assessing the overordering of TMs and the impact of interventions to improve appropriateness. The developed indicators could be considered for other diagnostic tests.