Involving consumers in assessing service quality: benefits of using a qualitative approach.
Although important to users, practice standards rarely incorporate users' views of care provided. These views are a valuable source of information, even though there are limits to their value. To improve the standards of care in a 20 bed hospital elderly care unit caring for acute medical conditions a qualitative approach was used. Patients' and carers' perceptions of care and problems with the process of care in the unit were elicited with a specially designed semistructured interview schedule in 83 separate tape recorded interviews with a research nurse in patients' homes. In all, 50 patients and 35 carers were interviewed between 6 June 1991 and 28 May 1992. Of the 50 patients, 33 were female; seven patients were aged less than 80 years, 16, 80-85; 21, 86-90; and six over 90. A total of 16 patients lived with spouses or other carers, two with non-carers, and 32 lived alone, 18 of whom received informal care. Content analysis of the interviews disclosed patients' and carers' general satisfaction with individualised professional care and planning of follow up services on discharge but dissatisfaction in the lack of information about and involvement in treatment and care and about specific staff notes. These findings have prompted remedial changes in clinical practice in the unit; they have also formed the structure of a criterion based survey of practice. The authors conclude that the qualitative approach suited elderly users and also provided the basis for the findings to be incorporated into a continuous audit cycle through a process of feedback and standard setting. (+info)
Goal attainment scaling in a geriatric day hospital. Team and program benefits.
PROBLEM BEING ADDRESSED: The Geriatric Day Program (GDP) of the Capital Health Region in Victoria, BC, is concerned with effective team processes, accountability for health service outcomes, and improving the quality of programs. The GDP identified a need to improve its interdisciplinary processes and generate useful patient outcome data. OBJECTIVE OF PROGRAM: To determine whether Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) could be introduced to facilitate interdisciplinary processes and to generate useful health outcome data. MAIN COMPONENTS OF PROGRAM: The GAS procedures were incorporated into clinical routines based on published guidelines. The authors determined GAS outcome scores for patients who completed the program and developed outcome scores for specific geriatric problem areas requiring intervention. Outcome scores were made available to the clinical care team and to program managers for continuous quality improvement purposes. CONCLUSIONS: The GAS process was successfully implemented and was acceptable to clinicians and managers at the GDP. Team processes were thought to be improved by focusing on patient goals in a structured way. The GAS provided data on both patient outcomes and outcomes of interventions in specific problem areas. Accountability for patient care increased. Goal Attainment Scaling provided indicators of care for which clinicians could develop program quality improvements. (+info)
How ready are health plans for Medicare?
CONTEXT: The Medicare program is encouraging its beneficiaries to enroll in capitated health plans. OBJECTIVE: To determine how prepared these plans are to handle chronically ill and frail elderly persons. DESIGN: Telephone survey of 28 health plans that together serve about one fourth of all enrollees of the Medicare Risk program. MEASURES: The degree of readiness (high, intermediate, or low) of health plans in seven domains that experts believe are important to the management of an elderly population. RESULTS: None of the 28 health plans had high readiness scores for all seven domains. The two domains for which the plans were most prepared were risk assessment and member self-care. The plans were least prepared for the domains of cooperative team care and geriatric consultations. CONCLUSIONS: Many plans do not offer the programs that experts believe are important for Medicare enrollees. They may hesitate to adopt strategies that lack data on effectiveness. (+info)
Square pegs in round holes: has psychometric testing a place in choosing a surgical career? A preliminary report of work in progress.
Methods of selection of candidates for training in surgery has long been regarded as lacking explicit criteria and objectivity. Our purpose was to discover the aptitudes and personality types of applicants for surgical posts at the outset, in order to discover which were most likely to result in a satisfactory progression through training and which were associated with career difficulties. This longitudinal predictive validation study has been undertaken in a London Teaching Hospital since 1994. After short-listing, but immediately before interview, all candidates for senior house officer posts in basic surgical training and in geriatric medicine were asked to undertake psychometric tests of numerical (GMA) and spatial (SIT7) reasoning, personality type (MBTI), and self-rating of competency. There were no differences in ability scores between surgeons or geriatricians. Personality differences were revealed between the surgeons and the geriatricians, and between male and female surgeons. This study suggests that while there are no differences in ability between surgeons and geriatricians at the start of training, there are differences in personality. Long-term follow-up of the career development of this cohort of surgical SHOs is required to determine whether the psychometric measures described correlate with achievements of milestones in their surgical careers. (+info)
The winter bed crisis--quantifying seasonal effects on hospital bed usage.
Winter bed crises are a common feature in NHS hospitals, and have given rise to great concern. We set out to determine the relative contribution of seasonal effects and other factors to bed occupancy in a large teaching hospital over one year. There were 190,804 occupied bed-days, which we analysed by specialty groupings. There was considerable variability in bed occupancy in each specialty. A significant winter peak occurred for general medicine and orthopaedics together with a significant increase on 'take-in' days. Virtually all specialties showed a significant variation in occupancy between weekdays. Geriatric Medicine had a high and fairly constant occupancy, with some seasonal effect. We conclude that seasonal trends in bed occupancy occur in 'front door' specialties and are predictable. In these specialties, admission policies also make a contribution to bed usage and are amenable to modification. There is no surge in occupancy in the immediate post-Christmas period, except that attributable to the seasonal trend. In the 'elective' specialties, bed occupancy fluctuates widely, with reduced occupancy at weekends and at Christmas. These differences are entirely amenable to modification. More effective bed management would make a very significant contribution to avoiding winter bed crises. (+info)
The attitudes of patients to integrated medical care.
AIM: To establish the attitude of inpatients to integrated medical care. SETTING: A district general hospital which had recently adopted the model of integrated medical care. METHODS: 205 patients of all ages were interviewed and asked about their general views and their personal experience of integrated medical care and their preference had they been given a choice. Those patients who had previously been admitted before integration were asked if they felt the quality of care had changed. RESULTS: Integrated medical wards were preferred by most patients and this preference was greater in older patients. However, 30% identified patients on their wards who they felt should be segregated on account of confusion, frailty or youthfulness. Of the 69 who had been admitted before integration, 88% commented that the quality of care was either the same or better. CONCLUSION: Integrated medical care was the preferred model of care, especially by elderly patients. The special needs of some patients were, however, recognized. Perhaps the ideal model is a needs-related policy within a fully integrated system. (+info)
High doses of vitamin E in the treatment of disorders of the central nervous system in the aged.
Oxidative stress is a putative factor in the pathogenesis of many human disorders of the central nervous system. Therefore, antioxidants such as vitamin E have become attractive as therapeutic agents in the treatment of several diseases. In addition, vitamin E seems to play a specific role in the nervous system. As a result, vitamin E has been used in pharmacologic doses in the treatment of disorders such as Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, and tardive dyskinesia. One investigation showed that the use of 2000 IU all-rac-alpha-tocopheryl acetate is beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer disease. Similar doses of vitamin E, however, were not beneficial for delaying the progression of Parkinson disease. In other studies, dosages >/=400 IU vitamin E/d were found to be beneficial in the treatment of tardive dyskinesia, although this finding was not confirmed in a larger cooperative study conducted by the Veterans Administration. Even though the efficacy of vitamin E in the management of cardiovascular disease has been shown, the potential role of vitamin E in the treatment of cerebrovascular disease remains essentially unknown. The experience from 2 large clinical trials involving the oral intake of 2000 IU vitamin E/d suggests that vitamin E is relatively safe at this dosage for periods <2 y. However, the safety and efficacy of supplemental vitamin E over periods of many years in the prevention of neurologic diseases has not been adequately explored. (+info)
Management of acute myeloid leukemia in elderly patients.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at older age is associated with several biologic and clinical characteristics. Hence, it may arise from an early level of hematopoietic stem cells and has a high frequency of blast cells with multidrug resistance glycoprotein MDR1 expression and particularly a high incidence of poor prognostic karyotypes. These factors, rather than age per se, underlie the poorer outcome as compared with younger cases. Prospective randomized studies clearly demonstrate, however, that elderly patients benefit from more intensive induction therapy and particularly from full-dose application of anthracyclines and possibly also cytarabine. Hematopoietic growth factors accelerate the recovery from treatment-induced neutropenia and may improve the remission rate, remission duration, and even overall survival. New treatment strategies need to be developed, however, for poor-prognosis AML subtypes in order to further improve the therapeutic perspectives for elderly patients with AML. (+info)