Despite publication of several management guidelines for COPD, relatively little is known about standards of care in clinical practice. Data were collected on the management of 1400 cases of acute admission with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in 38 UK hospitals to compare clinical practice against the recommended British Thoracic Society standards. Variation in the process of care between the different centres was analysed and a comparison of the management by respiratory specialists and nonrespiratory specialists made. There were large variations between centres for many of the variables studied. A forced expiratory volume in one second measurement was found in only 53% of cases. Of the investigations recommended in the acute management arterial blood gases were performed in 79% (interhospital range 40–100%) of admissions and oxygen was formally prescribed in only 64% (range 9–94%). Of those cases with acidosis and hypercapnia 35% had no further blood gas analysis and only 13% received ventilatory support. Long-term management was also deficient with 246 cases known to be severely hypoxic on admission yet two-thirds had no confirmation that oxygen levels had returned to levels above the requirements for long-term oxygen therapy. Only 30% of current smokers had cessation advice documented. To conclude, the median standards of care observed fell below those recommended by the guidelines. The lowest levels of performance were for patients not under the respiratory specialists, but specialists also have room for improvement. The substantial variation in the process of care between hospitals is strong evidence that it is possible for other centres with poorer performance to improve their levels of care.
|Journal||European Respiratory Journal|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2001|