Measuring the effects of reminders for outpatient influenza immunizations at the point of clinical opportunity.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the influence of computer-based reminders about influenza vaccination on the behavior of individual clinicians at each clinical opportunity. DESIGN: The authors conducted a prospective study of clinicians' influenza vaccination behavior over four years. Approximately one half of the clinicians in an internal medicine clinic used a computer-based patient record system (CPR users) that generated computer-based reminders. The other clinicians used traditional paper records (PR users). MEASUREMENTS: Each nonacute visit by a patient eligible for an influenza vaccination was considered an opportunity for intervention. Patients who had contraindications for vaccination were excluded. Compliance with the guideline was defined as documentation that a clinician ordered the vaccine, counseled the patient about the vaccine, offered the vaccine to a patient who declined it, or verified that the patient had received the vaccine elsewhere. The authors calculated the proportion of opportunities on which each clinician documented action in the CPR and PR user groups. RESULTS: The CPR and PR user groups had different baseline compliance rates (40.1 and 27.9 per cent, respectively; P<0.05). Both rates remained stable during a two-year baseline period (P = 0.34 and P = 0.47, respectively). The compliance rates in the CPR user group increased 78 per cent from baseline (P<0.001), whereas the rates for the PR user group did not change significantly (P = 0.18). CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians who used a CPR with reminders had higher rates of documentation of compliance with influenza-vaccination guidelines than did those who used a paper record. Measurements of individual clinician behavior at the point of each clinical opportunity can provide precise evaluation of interventions that are designed to improve compliance with guidelines. (+info)
Epidemiology and screening for prostate cancer.
This activity is designed for primary care physicians, internists, and general audiences. GOAL: To provide the reader with a basic understanding of the controversy surrounding population-based prostate cancer screening and of the tools needed to conduct early detection programs for prostate cancer among enrollees. OBJECTIVES: 1. Become familiar with the national debate regarding population-based prostate cancer screening. 2. Learn the essential elements of prostate specific antigen testing for patients. 3. Understand the cost-effectiveness and medico-legal/informed consent issues surrounding prostate cancer detection and screening. (+info)
Referrals by general internists and internal medicine trainees in an academic medicine practice.
Patient referral from generalists to specialists is a critical clinic care process that has received relatively little scrutiny, especially in academic settings. This study describes the frequency with which patients enrolled in a prepaid health plan were referred to specialists by general internal medicine faculty members, general internal medicine track residents, and other internal medicine residents; the types of clinicians they were referred to; and the types of diagnoses with which they presented to their primary care physicians. Requested referrals for all 2,113 enrolled prepaid health plan patients during a 1-year period (1992-1993) were identified by computer search of the practice's administrative database. The plan was a full-risk contract without carve-out benefits. We assessed the referral request rate for the practice and the mean referral rate per physician. We also determined the percentage of patients with diagnoses based on the International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision, who were referred to specialists. The practice's referral request rate per 100 patient office visits for all referral types was 19.8. Primary care track residents referred at a higher rate than did nonprimary care track residents (mean 23.7 vs. 12.1; P < .001). The highest referral rate (2.0/100 visits) was to dermatology. Almost as many (1.7/100 visits) referrals were to other "expert" generalists within the practice. The condition most frequently associated with referral to a specialist was depression (42%). Most referrals were associated with common ambulatory care diagnoses that are often considered to be within the scope of generalist practice. To improve medical education about referrals, a better understanding of when and why faculty and trainees refer and don't refer is needed, so that better models for appropriate referral can be developed. (+info)
Home healthcare orders: an assessment of service satisfaction by internists, surgeons, and medical subspecialists.
We conducted a pilot study to evaluate the satisfaction of general internists, medical subspecialists, and surgeons with the quality of home health orders generated by home health agencies. Using a mail survey, we polled 69 physician specialists at Tulane University Medical Center. The percentage of physicians satisfied with the appropriateness of services for the level and type of care, consistency of medication with that prescribed, sufficiency of data on the certification form to assess service continuation, timeliness of orders, and overall health service delivery was 94%, 92%, 69%, 52%, and 88%, respectively. Compared with medical subspecialists and surgeons, general internists were more likely to report that the data on the form were sufficient. Physicians who were satisfied with at least one of the four measures of quality for home health orders were more likely to be satisfied with the overall delivery of services by home health agencies. Our results demonstrate, for the first time, that physicians overall are satisfied with home healthcare orders. However, level of satisfaction with orders is related to the physician's specialty. Areas that physicians were less satisfied with included timeliness of orders and sufficiency of data on the form to assess service continuation. Further studies using a larger population and more specific indicators of healthcare orders quality are recommended. (+info)
Evidence-based medicine and the practicing clinician.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the attitudes of practicing general internists toward evidence-based medicine (EBM-defined as the process of systematically finding, appraising, and using contemporaneous research findings as the basis for clinical decisions) and their perceived barriers to its use. DESIGN: Cross-sectional, self-administered mail questionnaire conducted between June and October 1997. SETTING: Canada. PARTICIPANTS: Questionnaires were sent to all 521 physician members of the Canadian Society of Internal Medicine with Canadian mailing addresses; 296 (60%) of 495 eligible physicians responded. Exclusion of two incomplete surveys resulted in a final sample size of 294. MAIN RESULTS: Mean age of respondents was 46 years, 80% were male, and 52% worked in large urban medical centers. Participants reported using EBM in their clinical practice always (33, 11%), often (173, 59%), sometimes (80, 27%), or rarely/never (8, 3%). There were no significant differences in demographics, training, or practice types or locales on univariate or multivariate analyses between those who reported using EBM often or always and those who did not. Both groups reported high usage of traditional (non-EBM) information sources: clinical experience (93%), review articles (73%), the opinion of colleagues (61%), and textbooks (45%). Only a minority used EBM-related information sources such as primary research studies (45%), clinical practice guidelines (27%), or Cochrane Collaboration Reviews (5%) on a regular basis. Barriers to the use of EBM cited by respondents included lack of relevant evidence (26%), newness of the concept (25%), impracticality for use in day-to-day practice (14%), and negative impact on traditional medical skills and "the art of medicine" (11%). Less than half of respondents were confident in basic skills of EBM such as conducting a literature search (46%) or evaluating the methodology of published studies (34%). However, respondents demonstrated a high level of interest in further education about these tasks. CONCLUSIONS: The likelihood that physicians will incorporate EBM into their practice cannot be predicted by any demographic or practice-related factors. Even those physicians who are most enthusiastic about EBM rely more on traditional information sources than EBM-related sources. The most important barriers to increased use of EBM by practicing clinicians appear to be lack of knowledge and familiarity with the basic skills, rather than skepticism about the concept. (+info)
Turfing: patients in the balance.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the language of "turfing," a ubiquitous term applied to some transfers of patients between physicians, in order to reveal aspects of the ideology of internal medicine residency. SETTING: Academic internal medicine training program. MEASUREMENTS: Using direct observation and a focus group, we collected audiotapes of medical residents' discussions of turfing. These data were analyzed using interpretive and conversation analytic methods. The focus group was used both to validate and to further elaborate a schematic conceptual framework for turfing. MAIN RESULTS: The decision to call a patient "turfed" depends on the balance of the values of effectiveness of therapy, continuity of care, and power. For example, if the receiving physician cannot provide a more effective therapy than can the transferring physician, medical residents consider the transfer inappropriate, and call the patient a turf. With appropriate transfers, these residents see their service as honorable, but with turfs, residents talk about the irresponsibility of transferring physicians, burdens of service, abuse, and powerlessness. CONCLUSIONS: Internal medicine residents can feel angry and frustrated about receiving patients perceived to be rejected by other doctors, and powerless to prevent the transfer of those patients for whom they may have no effective treatment or continuous relationship. This study has implications for further exploration of how the relationships between physicians may uphold or conflict with the underlying moral tenets of the medical profession. (+info)
Philanthropic endowments in general internal medicine.
We performed two surveys to uncover the status of philanthropic endowments in general internal medicine divisions. The initial survey of U.S. medical school departments of medicine found that only 14.1% of general internal medicine divisions hold endowments versus 21.9% of all other divisions, and that endowment sources for general medicine are atypical. The second survey of successfully endowed divisions found that sympathetic administrators and active pursuit of endowments were associated with endowment success. Aggressive pursuit of endowments, publicizing successes of general medicine, and consideration of endowment sources noted in this study are recommended to improve philanthropic contributions to general internal medicine. (+info)
Missed opportunities for prevention in general internal medicine.
BACKGROUND: According to the Canadian Society of Internal Medicine, the Canadian general internist is in the ideal position to promote patient health through disease prevention. To explore the general internist's contribution to disease prevention, the authors quantified the extent to which opportunities for prevention were addressed by the general internal medicine (GIM) service in an acute care teaching hospital in Calgary. METHODS: The authors interviewed 100 adult patients before discharge from the hospital's GIM service between May 14, 1997, and Dec. 2, 1997. The number of potential opportunities for preventive intervention were identified for each patient from 10 possible interventions recommended by the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination (now the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care): breast cancer screening, Papanicolaou smear for cervical cancer, counselling on menopausal hormone replacement therapy, digital rectal examination for prostate cancer, smoking cessation counselling, cholesterol measurement, therapy or monitoring for hypertension, influenza vaccination, pneumococcal vaccination and colorectal cancer screening. The authors determined which interventions the patient had undergone before the current admission to hospital and, using patient recall and postdischarge medical chart review, which opportunities for intervention were addressed by the GIM service during the current admission. An opportunity for preventive intervention was considered as addressed by the GIM service if it was performed during the current admission or if the general internist informed the patient or the patient's family physician of the need for such intervention in the near future. RESULTS: Among the 10 preventive interventions considered, a mean of 3.8 potential opportunities for prevention were identified for each patient. Of these, 46.5% had been addressed before the current admission, and 8.7% were addressed by the GIM service during the admission. Therefore, at the time of discharge, a mean of 55.2% of opportunities had been addressed. Among the opportunities not previously addressed, the GIM service most frequently addressed digital rectal examination for prostate cancer and cholesterol measurement. INTERPRETATION: General internists are discharging patients without sufficiently addressing opportunities for disease prevention. Preventive care protocols may be needed to limit the frequency of missed opportunities for prevention in patients admitted to tertiary care GIM services. (+info)