New AHRQ Research Finds Evidence Lacking on Value of Preoperative Testing
A new research review from AHRQ found that, with the exception of cataract surgery, there is a lack of reliable evidence about benefits, harms, and resource utilization associated with routine or “per protocol” preoperative testing. Preoperative testing—including blood and urine tests, chest radiography, and electrocardiograms—has long been part of the preoperative care process to determine patients’ fitness for anesthesia and to identify patients at high risk for perioperative complications. According to the review, “Benefits and Harms of Routine Preoperative Testing: A Comparative Effectiveness Review,” there is a high strength of evidence that preoperative tests do not affect outcomes in patients scheduled for cataract surgery. However, no conclusions could be drawn about the value of routine preoperative testing for other procedures. Given the large number of patients undergoing elective surgery, better evidence is needed to indicate when routine testing improves patient outcomes and reduces potential harms, according to the review.