Management of coeliac disease: a changing diagnostic approach but what value in follow up? (1/123)

OBJECTIVE: To assess the management of patients with coeliac disease in relation to a change in diagnostic method from jejunal suction biopsy to endoscopic biopsy. DESIGN: 16 item questionnaire survey of consultant members of the British Society of Gastroenterology. SUBJECTS: 359 consultant physician and gastroenterologist members of the society. MAIN MEASURES: Type of routine biopsy; repeat biopsy after gluten withdrawal; gluten rechallenge; follow up measurements; screening for malignancy; and methods of follow up, including special clinics. RESULTS: 270(70%) members replied; 216(80%) diagnosed coeliac disease routinely by endoscopic duodenal biopsy, 30(11%) by jejunal capsule biopsy, and the remainder by either method. Only 156(58%) repeated the biopsy after gluten withdrawal, though more did so for duodenal than jejunal biopsies (134/216, 62% v 13/30, 43%; p < 0.02). Follow up biopsies featured more duodenal than jejunal biopsies (133/156, 82% v 23/156, 15%; p < 0.02). Regular follow up included assessments of weight (259, 96%) and full blood count (238, 88%) but limited assessment of serum B-12 and folate (120, 44%) and calcium (105, 39%) concentrations. Routine screening for malignancy is not performed, and there are few specialist clinics. 171(63%) respondents thought that patients should be followed up by a hospital specialist and 58(21%) by family doctors. CONCLUSIONS: The practice of diagnosing coeliac disease varies appreciably from that in many standard texts. Many patients could be effectively cared for by their family doctor. IMPLICATIONS: The British Society of Gastroenterology should support such management by family doctors by providing clear guidelines for them.  (+info)

Payment by salary or fee-for-service. Effect on health care resource use in the last year of life. (2/123)

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of physician payment method on use of health care resources. DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of patient health care data collected for 3 years (1994 to 1996) from the Vital Statistics Department of the British Columbia Ministry of Health. Billing numbers identified physician payment method. SETTING: Salaried and fee-for-service primary care practices in the Capital Region District of Victoria, BC. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 582 patients in their last year of life: 106 were attended by salaried family physicians at a community health clinic; 476 were attended by fee-for-service practitioners. Groups were comparable in age, sex, and geographical location. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number and cost of specialist and diagnostic services and medications, number of days in hospital (acute and extended care), and main causes of death. RESULTS: None of the dependent measures showed any statistically significant differences based on comparisons between many variables for patients in the two groups. Costs of pharmaceutical, specialist, and diagnostic services were not significantly different for the two groups. There were three main causes of death, according to codes on death certificates: heart disease, malignant neoplasms, and cerebrovascular disease. CONCLUSION: Whether physicians were paid by salary or fee-for-service had no empirical effect on health care resource use.  (+info)

Non-contrast second harmonic imaging improves interobserver agreement and accuracy of dobutamine stress echocardiography in patients with impaired image quality. (3/123)

OBJECTIVE: To examine the influence of second harmonic imaging during dobutamine echocardiography on regional endocardial visibility, interobserver agreement in the interpretation of wall motion abnormalities, and diagnostic accuracy in patients with reduced image quality. DESIGN: Blinded comparison. SETTING: Tertiary care centre. PATIENTS: 103 consecutive patients with suspected coronary artery disease and impaired transthoracic image quality (>/= 2 segments with poor endocardial delineation). METHODS: Fundamental and second harmonic imaging were performed at each stage of a dobutamine stress echocardiography. Coronary angiography was undertaken within three weeks of dobutamine echocardiography in 75 patients. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Evaluation of regional endocardial visibility (scoring from 0 = poor to 2 = good) and of segmental wall motion abnormalities for both modalities separately. A second blinded examiner analysed 70 studies to determine interobserver agreement. RESULTS: Mean (SD) visibility score for all segments was 1.2 (0.4) using fundamental imaging and 1.7 (0.2) using second harmonic imaging at rest (p < 0.001), and 1.1 (0.4) v 1.6 (0.3), respectively, at peak dobutamine dose (p < 0.001). The average number of segments with poor endocardial visibility was lower for second harmonic than for fundamental imaging (0.6 (1.1) v 3.8 (2.6) at rest, p < 0.001; 0.9 (1.3) v 4.3 (2.9) at peak dose, p < 0.001). Improvement was most pronounced in all lateral and anterior segments. The kappa value for identical study interpretation increased from 0. 40 to 0.69 (p < 0.05). Sensitivity for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease was 64% using fundamental imaging versus 92% using harmonic imaging (p < 0.001), while specificity remained unchanged at 75% for both imaging modalities. CONCLUSIONS: Second harmonic imaging enhances endocardial visibility during dobutamine echocardiography. Consequently, interobserver agreement on stress echocardiography interpretation and diagnostic accuracy are significantly improved compared to fundamental imaging. Thus, in difficult to image patients, dobutamine echocardiography should be performed using second harmonic imaging.  (+info)

Benchmarking general practice use of pathology services: a model for monitoring change. (4/123)

AIMS: To identify a model to assess general practitioner use of pathology services that could be applied to assess specific interventions designed to promote best practice. METHODS: A database containing standardised requesting data for 22 general practices was constructed. The database contained 28 tests covering 95% of general practitioner activity, distributed across pathology, and it was evaluated during two sequential six month periods. A comparison of ranks of requesting activity between different time periods was undertaken by calculating Pearson rank correlation coefficients. Requesting numbers were also adjusted for patients' age and sex distributions within the 22 practices for a sample of three high volume tests. The effects of distributing requesting guidelines and details of requesting activity were assessed during two sequential three month periods. RESULTS: Requesting activity was extremely stable during the two baseline periods for most test (r > 0.80 for 20 of the 28 tests). Several less discriminatory tests were identified. Age and sex adjustment had minimal impact on the ranks of requesting activity. Requesting activity during the two three month periods after distributing guidelines and comparative details of individual requesting activity showed little change (overall correlation coefficient, 0.844 between baseline and intervention periods). CONCLUSIONS: Ranking general practitioners requesting activity adjusted for practice list size provides a reproducible means of measuring requesting activity for most pathology tests performed in general practice. Activity was not influenced by age or sex of patients on the practice list. Distributing requesting guidelines and individual requesting activity on their own do not have any measurable impact on requesting activity. More innovative (possibly multiple) interventions might be required to influence general practitioner requesting practice.  (+info)

Levels of diabetes-related preventive-care practices--United States, 1997-1999. (5/123)

Persons with diabetes are at increased risk for serious complications (e.g., blindness, kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-extremity amputations, and cardiovascular disease) (1). Preventive-care practices, such as annual dilated eye and foot examinations, self-monitoring of blood glucose, and glycemic control, are effective in reducing both the incidence and progression of diabetes-specific complications (2-6). Despite the benefits of preventive-care practices, many persons with diabetes in the United States do not receive these services (7). The national health objectives for 2010 include increasing the proportion of persons with diabetes who 1) have an annual dilated eye examination to 75%, 2) have an annual foot examination to 75%, 3) perform self-monitoring of their blood glucose (SMBG) at least once daily to 60%, and 4) have a glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C) measurement at least once a year to 50%. To measure levels of preventive-care practices, CDC analyzed data from the 1997-1999 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which indicate that levels of preventive-care practices among persons with diabetes are lower than the national health objectives for 2010 (Figure 1).  (+info)

Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement for flow cytometry. (6/123)

Medicaid, a program administered by individual states but involving federal funding, is the source of medical coverage for many low-income patients. This method of reimbursement is crucial for many flow cytometry laboratories, but is not well understood by many laboratory professionals. Conversely, flow cytometry often is not well understood by administrators in Medicaid offices. The potential exists for great variation in Medicaid reimbursement for flow cytometry services from state to state. As a first step toward elucidating the extent of this variation and bringing more information about Medicaid to laboratory professionals, state Medicaid offices were asked to provide the fee-for-service reimbursement for flow cytometry services. These services included Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes 85045 (reticulocyte counts), 86359 (total T-cell count), 86360 (absolute CD4 and CD8 counts, with ratio), 86361 (absolute CD4 count), 86812 (HLA typing, single antigen [B27]), 88180 (immunophenotyping, per surface marker), and 88182 (DNA, cell cycle analysis). Data were collected on technical and professional components and on global reimbursement. Wide variation exists in reimbursement amounts for these tests. Variation for CPT code 88180 was markedly pronounced.  (+info)

Clinical service standards at academic health centers. (7/123)

OBJECTIVE: To describe the content and variability for clinical service standards related to quality of care among a convenience sample of academic health centers. DESIGN: We used the membership of the University HealthSystem Consortium, an alliance of academic health centers in the United States for clinical services, to survey electronically 53 of these centers regarding clinical service standards. The survey evaluated service standards in four areas; general communications, communications between physicians, ambulatory and inpatient clinical services and administrative standards. RESULTS: Thirty-four institutions responded to the survey (64%). Of these, 16 (47%) had clinical service standards, while the remaining 18 (53%) had not established formal standards. A few of the centers had established standards for patient communications, such as policies for answering telephones by staff. More had developed standards for communications between physicians and most centers had established standards for appointment availability, especially for urgent visits. However, clinical service standards were less typical for inpatient consultative or diagnostic services. A small number of the academic health centers had standards for hours of operation and for handling administrative matters, such as patient complaints. For many clinical service standards at the centers, there were notable variations (e.g. non-urgent primary care visits ranged 3-14 days). CONCLUSION: Some academic health centers have developed and implemented patient-centered clinical service standards for diverse areas of practice, however, the standards used appear to vary for some aspects of care, but not for others.  (+info)

The use of a standard proforma in breast cancer reporting. (8/123)

AIM: To determine whether the introduction of a standard reporting proforma has led to an improvement in the completeness of histopathology reports for breast cancer excision specimens. METHODS: A standard reporting proforma was designed using the Royal College of Pathologists' minimum dataset for breast cancer histopathology reports and the national histopathology reporting form of the National Health Service (NHS) breast screening programme. This was introduced into our department in June 1999, with reports generated from the proforma replacing the standard text reports. The pathological information contained in 50 text reports issued before the introduction of the proforma and 50 reports generated using the proforma was compared with the minimum dataset and NHS breast screening programme guidelines. RESULTS: A general improvement in documentation of individual pathological features was noted after introduction of the proforma. This was most significant in relation to documentation of features, such as microcalcification and ductal carcinoma in situ. In addition, important features such as tumour grade, tumour size, and hormone receptor status were documented more frequently in the proforma group. There was an overall increase in the number of reports regarded as complete after introduction of the proforma. CONCLUSIONS: The introduction of a standard proforma led to a significant improvement in the completeness of breast cancer histopathology reports in this centre, but continued vigilance is needed to ensure that standards continue to improve.  (+info)