BACKGROUND: Since in hospitalized older patients delirium is associated with poor outcomes, we evaluated the effectiveness of a multicomponent strategy for the prevention of delirium. METHODS: We studied 852 patients 70 years of age or older who had been admitted to the general-medicine service at a teaching hospital. Patients from one intervention unit and two usual-care units were enrolled by means of a prospective matching strategy. The intervention consisted of standardized protocols for the management of six risk factors for delirium: cognitive impairment, sleep deprivation, immobility, visual impairment, hearing impairment, and dehydration. Delirium, the primary outcome, was assessed daily until discharge. RESULTS: Delirium developed in 9.9 percent of the intervention group as compared with 15.0 percent of the usual-care group, (matched odds ratio, 0.60; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.39 to 0.92). The total number of days with delirium (105 vs. 161, P=0.02) and the total number of episodes (62 vs. 90, P=0.03) were significantly lower in the intervention group. However, the severity of delirium and recurrence rates were not significantly different. The overall rate of adherence to the intervention was 87 percent, and the total number of targeted risk factors per patient was significantly reduced. Intervention was associated with significant improvement in the degree of cognitive impairment among patients with cognitive impairment at admission and a reduction in the rate of use of sleep medications among all patients. Among the other risk factors per patient there were trends toward improvement in immobility, visual impairment, and hearing impairment. CONCLUSIONS: The risk-factor intervention strategy that we studied resulted in significant reductions in the number and duration of episodes of delirium in hospitalized older patients. The intervention had no significant effect on the severity of delirium or on recurrence rates; this finding suggests that primary prevention of delirium is probably the most effective treatment strategy. (+info)
(2/2588) Can we cure indolent lymphomas?
The current consensus is that indolent lymphomas are incurable disorders. There are some indications that these malignancies are potentially curable. Indeed, not all indolent lymphomas are currently incurable. For example, patients with Ann Arbor stage I-II indolent lymphomas can experience long-term disease-free survival and probable cure. Also, from the available literature data, it seems that the achievement of a molecular complete remission is a desirable objective. Patients who achieve a persistently negative PCR state seldom relapse, whereas the opposite is true for persistently positive cases. In view of its excellent correlation with disease-free survival when examined serially in multiple blood or marrow samples, the PCR technique has the potential of providing a tumor marker that can be used as an early end point for clinical trials. By serving as an early surrogate end point, PCR could play an important role in expediting the development of new treatment strategies. Whether IFN is capable of increasing the molecular complete remission rate as measured by PCR is not known. However, it is clear that from the clinical standpoint, IFN has been able to increase 2-fold the length of remission in patients with advanced indolent lymphomas. In at least two studies, this has been associated with prolongation of survival. More intensive regimens such as alternating triple therapy, when used in combination with IFN, seem to have improved the quality of remissions as judged by the PCR assay. Finally, the site where the bcl-2 breakpoint occurs seems to have clinical significance. Those follicular lymphomas with germ-line bcl-2, in our experience, have behaved more aggressively than the others, and their failure-free survival seems different from the usual indolent lymphomas and more closely resembles the large cell lymphomas. Although the biological significance of this observation is not yet understood, this group might actually constitute a prognostically different subset with a more aggressive and perhaps more curable lymphoma. Whether the plateau observed in their failure-free survival curve will be maintained with more follow-up and whether they might be a curable subset remain to be determined. (+info)
(3/2588) Low-molecular-weight heparin in outpatient treatment of DVT.
Patients with a diagnosis of acute deep venous thrombosis have traditionally been hospitalized and treated with unfractionated heparin followed by oral anticoagulation therapy. Several clinical trials have shown that low-molecular-weight heparin is at least as safe and effective as unfractionated heparin in the treatment of uncomplicated deep venous thrombosis. The use of low-molecular-weight heparin in an outpatient program for the management of deep venous thrombosis provides a treatment alternative to hospitalization in selected patients. Use of low-molecular-weight heparin on an outpatient basis requires coordination of care, laboratory monitoring, and patient education and participation in treatment. Overlapping the initiation of warfarin permits long-term anticoagulation. Advantages include a decreased incidence of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia and fewer episodes of bleeding complications. Future clinical trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of low-molecular-weight heparin in the treatment of complicated deep venous thrombosis will further define appropriate indications for use and strategies for outpatient management. (+info)
(4/2588) Time course of respiratory decompensation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a prospective, double-blind study of peak flow changes prior to emergency department visits.
The aim of this study was to look at changes in peak expiratory flow rates (PEFR) prior to emergency department visits for decompensated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It was designed as a prospective, double-blind study at the Albuquerque Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Twelve patients with an irreversible component of airflow obstruction on pulmonary function tests were assessed. At entry, all subjects were instructed in the use of a mini-Wright peak flow meter with electronic data storage. They then entered a 6-month monitoring phase in which they recorded PEFR twice daily, before and after bronchodilators. The meter displays were disabled so that the patients and their physicians were blinded to all values. Medical care was provided in the customary manner. Patients were considered to have respiratory decompensation if they required treatment for airflow obstruction in the Emergency Department (ED) and no other causes of dyspnea could be identified. Simple linear regression was used to model changes in PEFR over time. The 12 subjects had 22 episodes of respiratory decompensation during 1741 patient-days of observation. Two episodes could not be analysed because of missing values. Ten episodes in seven subjects were characterized by a significant linear decline in at least one peak flow parameter prior to presentation. The mean rates of change for the four daily parameters varied from 0.22% to 0.27% predicted per day (or 1.19 to 1.44 1 min-1 day-1). The average decrement in these parameters ranged from 30.0 to 33.8 1 min-1 (or 18.6%-25.9% of their baseline values). No temporal trends were found for the 10 episodes occurring in the other five subjects. We concluded that respiratory decompensation is characterized by a gradual decline in PEFR in about half of cases. Future studies should be done to elucidate the mechanisms of respiratory distress in the other cases. (+info)
(5/2588) Enhancing the identification of excessive drinkers on medical wards: a 1-year follow-up study.
This paper describes a 1-year follow-up study examining whether hospital ward doctors and nurses continue to take quantitative alcohol histories and provide brief intervention to problem drinkers on general medical wards after the introduction of a simple protocol. Regular training in the use of this protocol was stipulated in the annual service contract between the Health Authority and the Hospital Trusts. Improvements in staff practice persisted at 1-year follow-up, although it fell from a peak at an earlier phase of the study. The positive role of state purchasers of health services in sustaining improvements in clinical practice is discussed. (+info)
(6/2588) Agreeing criteria for audit of the management of induced abortion: an approach by national consensus survey.
OBJECTIVE: To obtain a national consensus view of suggested criteria for good quality care in induced abortion to serve as a basis for standards for audit to assess current clinical practice. DESIGN: Postal, questionnaire survey assessing consensus agreement with criteria identified from a literature review and refined by an invited panel of four gynaecologists and the gynaecology audit project in Scotland (GAPS) committee. SETTING: Scotland. SUBJECTS: All 132 practising consultant gynaecologists. MAIN MEASURES: Overall level of agreement with each of 20 suggested audit criteria. RESULTS: 121 completed questionnaires were received (response rate 92%), of which 119 were returned in time for analysis; 107 came from consultants who practised abortion routinely and were included in the analysis. Nineteen of 20 suggested criteria were validated by an overall balance of agreement. The most strongly supported criterion (agreement score +93) was for ascertaining rhesus status of the woman and prophylaxis after abortion, if indicated. The only criterion to elicit a negative agreement score (-27) was that dilatation and evacuation is the best method of abortion at 12-15 weeks' gestation. The ranked and prioritised criteria resulting from this exercise are being used within a national audit project. CONCLUSIONS: A postal questionnaire survey among interested clinicians resulted in a good response rate and enabled the audit criteria to be validated and ranked more objectively and among more clinicians, than would have been possible by group discussion. (+info)
(7/2588) Audit of thrombolysis initiated in an accident and emergency department.
Early thrombolytic therapy after acute myocardial infarction is important in reducing mortality. To evaluate a system for reducing in-hospital delays to thrombolysis pain to needle and door to needle times to thrombolysis were audited in a major accident and emergency (A and E) department of a district general hospital and its coronary care unit (CCU), situated about 5 km away. Baseline performance over six months was assessed retrospectively from notes of 43 consecutive patients (group 1) transferred to the CCU before receiving thrombolysis. Subsequently, selected patients (23) were allowed to receive thrombolysis in the A and E department before transfer to the CCU. The agent was administered by medical staff in the department after receiving oral confirmation of myocardial infarction from the admitting medical officer in the CCU on receipt of fax transmission of the electrocardiogram. A second prospective audit during six months from the start of the new procedure established time intervals in 23 patients eligible to receive thrombolysis in the A and E department (group 2b) and 30 ineligible patients who received thrombolysis in the CCU (group 2a). The groups did not differ significantly in case mix, pre-hospital delay, or transfer time to the CCU. In group 2b door to needle time and pain to needle time were reduced significantly (geometric mean 38 min v 121 min (group 2a) and 128 min (group 1); 141 min v 237 min (group 2a) and 242 min (group 1) respectively, both p < 0.0001). The incidence of adverse effects was not significantly different. Nine deaths occurred (six in group 1, three in group 2b), an in-hospital mortality of 9.9%. Thrombolysis can be safely instituted in the A and E department in selected patients, significantly reducing delay to treatment. (+info)
(8/2588) Improving quality through cost recovery in Niger.
New evidence on the quality of health care from public services in Niger is discussed in terms of the relationships between quality, costs, cost-effectiveness and financing. Although structural attributes of quality appeared to improve with the pilot project in Niger, significant gaps in the implementation of diagnostic and treatment protocols were observed, particularly in monitoring vital signs, diagnostic examination and provider-patient communications. Quality improvements required significant investments in both fixed and variable costs; however, many of these costs were basic input requirements for operation. It is likely that optimal cost-effectiveness of services was not achieved because of the noted deficiencies in quality. In the test district of Boboye, the revenues from the copayments alone covered about 34% of the costs of medicines or about 20% of costs of drugs and administration. In Say, user fees covered about 50-55% of the costs of medicines or 35-40% of the amount spent on medicines and cost-recovery administration. In Boboye, taxes plus the additional copayments covered 120-180% of the cost of medicines, or 75-105% of the cost of medicines plus administration of cost recovery. Decentralized management and legal conditions in the pilot districts appeared to provide the necessary structure to ensure that the revenues and taxes collected would be channelled to pay for quality improvements. (+info)