The OPTIMIZE-HF cohort analysis allowed for an opportunity to determine the degree of conformity for the ACC/AHA performance measures. The ACE inhibitors or ARB use at discharge was shown in the OPTIMIZE-HF cohort to have a relative reduction in one-year post discharge mortality by 17% (risk reduction, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.79-0.88) and a trend to lower 60- to 90-days post-discharge mortality and rehospitalization. Although smoking cessation had an early positive correlation, outcomes did not reach statistical significance. The measure of discharge instruction in the current study did not show a benefit on early mortality/rehospitalization in 60- to 90-days post discharge. It is unclear from this study if discharge instructions given to patients were either rushed or discussed in a comprehensive manner. This factor will need clarification and further research.
The measures of discharge instructions, smoking cessation, LV assessment, and anticoagulation for atrial fibrillation have not been examined as effective performance measures prior to this study. These measures were unable to show an independent decrease in 60- to 90-day mortality and rehospitalization.
Patients discharged with beta-blockers showed an association between lower mortality and rehospitalization. This association was found to be stronger than any of the formal ACC/AHA current performance measures.
The ACC/AHA guidelines are becoming standards of care for reporting to agencies such as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or other P4P programs. To allow for improvement of quality, JCAHO and ACC/AHA designed the above criteria to act as a guide for the post discharge care of coronary heart failure patients. Because these criteria are the measures by which hospitals need to report, it will be necessary for data to show validity and a link between the clinical performance measures and improved outcomes.
Of the five measures stated, only ACE inhibitors/ARB at discharge was associated with a decrease in mortality/rehospitalization. Beta-blockers, currently not a performance measure, also showed this trend. Increased scrutiny needs to be part of the criteria for which hospitals and practitioners are being held accountable, and further research validating their effectiveness is warranted.
Risk Indexes for COPD
Niewoehner DE, Lockhnygina Y, Rice K, et al. Risk indexes for exacerbations and hospitalizations due to COPD. Chest. 2007 Jan;131(1):20-28.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the U.S. and continues to increase its numbers annually.
The cornerstone of COPD diagnosis and key predictor of prognosis is a low level of lung function. Another important predictor of morbidity, mortality, and progression of disease is COPD exacerbations.
Unfortunately, the definition of an exacerbation is varied, ranging from an increase in symptoms to COPD-related hospitalizations and death.1 Therefore, prevention of COPD exacerbations is an important management goal. This study focuses on setting a risk model as a clinical management tool, similar to what exists for cardiovascular events or community acquired pneumonia. No previous study has attempted to identify risk factors for exacerbations using prospective data collection and a clearly stated definition of exacerbation.
The study was a parallel-group, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in patients with moderate to severe COPD conducted at 26 Veterans Affairs medical centers in the United States. Subjects were 40 or older, with a cigarette smoking history of 10 packs a year or more, a clinical diagnosis of COPD, and a forced expiratory volume [FEV] of 60% or less predicted and 70% or less of the forced vital capacity [FVC].1 Patients were allocated to receive one capsule of tiotropium (18 mg) or placebo for six months.
Of the 1,829 patients selected, 914 were assigned to the tiotropium arm. Patients kept a daily diary, and the investigators collected data by monthly telephone interviews and by site visits at three and six months with spirometry evaluation. They evaluated the association between baseline characteristics, concomitant medications and the study drug and the time to first COPD exacerbation and the time to first hospitalization due to exacerbation. The authors defined an exacerbation as a complex of respiratory symptoms of more than one of the following: cough, sputum, wheezing, dyspnea, or chest tightness with a duration of at least three days requiring treatment with antibiotics and/or systemic corticosteroids and/or hospital admission.