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Is Metabolic Syndrome On the Radar? Improving Real-Time Detection of Metabolic Syndrome and Physician Response by Computerized Scan of the Electronic Medical Record

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2016;18(1):doi:10.4088/PCC.15m01849
10.4088/PCC.15m01849

Objective: Metabolic syndrome is a common underdiagnosed condition among psychiatric patients exacerbated by second-generation antipsychotics, with the exception of aripiprazole and ziprasidone. This study evaluated the prescribing and treating behavior with regard to antipsychotics and metabolic syndrome of psychiatrists before and after implementation of a mandatory admission order set and electronic notification of results.

Method: Baseline data from 9,100 consecutive psychiatric admissions to a mental health hospital (July 2013–July 2014) were compared to postintervention data (July 2014–January 2015), which included 1,499 consecutive patient records. The intervention initiated standardized admission testing with electronic notification to psychiatrists when patients met metabolic syndrome criteria (according to Axis III of the DSM-IV). Charts were examined for inclusion of this diagnosis at discharge and for treatment changes.

Results: At baseline, only 2.4% of patients (n = 214) were evaluated for metabolic syndrome. Of these, 34.5% (0.8% of the total sample) met metabolic syndrome criteria. Only 15 patients (0.16%) were comprehensively treated. No chart listed metabolic syndrome under Axis III of the DSM-IV. After the intervention, the diagnosis of patients meeting the criteria for metabolic syndrome increased from 0% to 29.3%. Less than 3% of patients were switched to drugs with a more benign metabolic profile. All patients who continued on second-generation antipsychotics had metabolic retesting. Thirty-eight experienced a significant and rapid increase in triglyceride levels after only 3 to 17 days.

Conclusions: Mandatory intake testing increases the number of patients evaluated for metabolic syndrome. Electronic alerts increase the inclusion of metabolic syndrome among discharge diagnoses but rarely affect prescribing practices.

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