A Shared Diagnostic Stewardship Approach toward Improving Autoimmune Encephalopathy Send-out Testing Utilization

Cierra N. Sharp, Anita Fletcher, Penn Muluhngwi, James Snyder, Mark W. Linder, Saeed A. Jortani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: For many laboratories, autoimmune encephalopathy (AE) panels are send-out tests. These tests are expensive, and ordering patterns vary greatly. There is also a lack of consensus on which panel to order and poor understanding of the clinical utility of these panels. These challenges were presented to our newly formed, multidisciplinary, diagnostic stewardship committee (DSC). Through this collaboration, we developed an algorithm for ordering AE panels; combining diagnostic criteria with practice guidelines. Methods: We analyzed test-ordering patterns in 2018 and calculated a true-positive rate based on clinical presentation and panel interpretation. An evidence-based approach was combined with input from the Department of Neurology to synthesize our algorithm. Efficacy of the algorithm (number of panels ordered, cost, and true positives) was assessed before and after implementation. Results: In 2018, 77 AE-related panels were ordered, costing $137 510. The true-positive rate was 10%, although ordering multiple, similar panels for the same patient was common. Before implementing the algorithm (January 1-July 31, 2019), 55 panels were ordered, costing $105 120. The total true-positive rate was 3.6%. After implementation, 23 tests were ordered in a 5-month period, totaling $50 220. The true-positive rate was 13%. Conclusion: With the DSC-directed mandate, we developed an algorithm for ordering AE panels. Comparison of pre- and postimplementation data showed a higher true-positive rate, indicating that our algorithm was able to successfully identify the at-risk population for AE disorders. This was met with a 43% decrease in the number of tests ordered, with total cost savings of $25 000 over 5 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-396
Number of pages10
JournalThe journal of applied laboratory medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Association for Clinical Chemistry. All rights reserved. [br]For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.


  • autoimmune encephalopathy
  • diagnostic stewardship
  • paraneoplastic disorders
  • test utilization


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