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JAMA Dermatol. 2014 Oct;150(10):1056-61. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.1085.

The impact of dermatology consultation on diagnostic accuracy and antibiotic use among patients with suspected cellulitis seen at outpatient internal medicine offices: a randomized clinical trial.

Author information

1
Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
2
Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Abstract

IMPORTANCE:

Cellulitis is a common and costly problem, often diagnosed in the outpatient setting. Many cutaneous conditions may clinically mimic cellulitis, but little research has been done to assess the magnitude of the problem.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine if obtaining dermatology consultations in the outpatient primary care setting could assist in the diagnosis of pseudocellulitic conditions and reduce the rate of unnecessary antibiotic use.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:

Nonblinded randomized clinical trial of competent adults who were diagnosed as having cellulitis by their primary care physicians (PCPs), conducted at outpatient internal medical primary care offices affiliated with a large academic medical center.

INTERVENTIONS:

Outpatient dermatology consultation.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES:

Primary outcomes were final diagnosis, antibiotic use, and need for hospitalization.

RESULTS:

A total of 29 patients (12 male and 17 female) were enrolled for participation in this trial. Nine patients were randomized to continue with PCP management (control group), and 20 patients were randomized to receive a dermatology consultation (treatment group). Of the 20 patients in the dermatology consultation group, 2 (10%) were diagnosed as having cellulitis. In the control group, all 9 patients were diagnosed as having cellulitis by PCPs, but dermatologist evaluation determined that 6 (67%) of these patients had a psuedocellulitis rather than true infection. All 9 patients (100%) in the control group were treated for cellulitis with antibiotics vs 2 patients (10%) in the treatment group (Pā€‰<ā€‰.001). One patient in the control group was hospitalized. All patients in the treatment group reported improvement of their cutaneous condition at the 1-week follow-up examination.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:

Dermatology consultation in the primary care setting improves the diagnostic accuracy of suspected cellulitis and decreases unnecessary antibiotic use in patients with pseudocellulitic conditions. Obtaining an outpatient dermatology consultation may be a cost-effective strategy that improves quality of care.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

clinicaltrials.gov Identifier:NCT01795092.

PMID:
25143179
DOI:
10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.1085
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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