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Ir Med J. 2006 Jul-Aug;99(7):199-200.

Application of the Ottawa Knee Rules in assessing acute knee injuries.

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  • 1Accident and Emergency Department, Mercy University Hospital, Cork.


The Ottawa Knee Rules (OKR) were established to identify which adults with acute knee injuries require knee x-rays as part of their assessment. This study evaluates the compliance of non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs), working in an Irish Emergency Dept., with these guidelines and assesses the impact of raising the profile of these rules on their implementation. Emergency Dept. (ED) notes of all adults who presented with an acute knee injury in a 3-month period were analysed retrospectively and compliance with the OKR was assessed. ED NCHDs were then educated on the details and value of these guidelines. In the subsequent three months, the improvement in compliance with the OKR was audited. In the initial audit, according to the Ottawa criteria, 65.5% of all x-rays of acute knee injuries were performed unnecessarily. In the second audit, performed after increasing awareness of the OKR, this figure had dropped to 39.1%. The NCHDs involved in this project cited 'patient expectation' for an x-ray as the primary reason why full compliance was not achieved. This study highlights a lack of awareness of and compliance with the OKR in the assessment of acute knee injuries in adults. It shows how the implementation of simple measures, which raised the profile of the OKR among ED staff, significantly improved compliance with the rules, thus cutting patient waiting times and cutting hospital costs. Futhermore, this study revealed that patients, when injured, expect to get x-rayed and ofter doctors comply with these expectations even if no indication exists.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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