Pay-For-Performance Incentive Reduces Mortality in England
Clinical question: Do pay-for-performance programs improve quality of care?
Background: Pay-for-performance programs are being widely adopted both internationally and in the U.S. There is, however, limited evidence that these programs improve patient outcomes, and most prior studies have shown modest or inconsistent improvements in quality of care.
Study design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: National Health Service (NHS) hospitals in northwest England.
Synopsis: The Advanced Quality program, the first hospital-based pay-for-performance program in England, was introduced in October 2004 in all 24 NHS hospitals in northwest England that provide emergency care. The program used a “tournament” system in which only the top-performing hospitals received bonus payments. There was no penalty for poor performers.
The primary end-point was 30-day in-hospital mortality among patients admitted for pneumonia, heart failure, or acute myocardial infarction. Over the three-year period studied (18 months before and 18 months after introduction of the program), the risk-adjusted mortality for these three conditions decreased significantly with an absolute reduction of 1.3% (95% CI 0.4 to 2.1%; P=0.006). The largest change, for pneumonia, was significant (1.9%, 95% CI 0.9 to 3.0, P<0.001), with nonsignificant reductions for acute myocardial infarction (0.6%, 95% CI -0.4 to 1.7; P=0.23) and heart failure (0.6%, 95% CI -0.6 to 1.8; P=0.30).
Bottom line: The introduction of a pay-for-performance program for all National Health Service hospitals in one region of England was associated with a significant reduction in mortality.
Citation: Sutton M, Nikolova S, Boaden R, Lester H, McDonald R, Roland M. Reduced mortality with hospital pay for performance in England. N Engl J Med. 2012;367(19):1821-1828.
Ultrafiltration Shows No Benefit in Acute Heart Failure
Clinical question: Is ultrafiltration superior to pharmacotherapy in the treatment of patients with acute heart failure and cardiorenal syndrome?
Background: Venovenous ultrafiltration is an alternative to diuretic therapy in patients with acute decompensated heart failure and worsened renal function that could allow greater control of the rate of fluid removal and improve outcomes. Little is known about the efficacy and safety of ultrafiltration compared to standard pharmacological therapy.
Study design: Multicenter randomized controlled trial.
Setting: Fourteen clinical centers in the U.S. and Canada.
Synopsis: One hundred eighty-eight patients admitted to a hospital with acute decompensated heart failure and worsened renal function were randomized to stepped pharmacological therapy or ultrafiltration. Ultrafiltration was inferior to pharmacological therapy with respect to the pre-specified primary composite endpoint, the change in serum creatinine level, and body weight at 96 hours after enrollment (P=0.003). This difference was primarily due to an increase in the serum creatinine level in the ultrafiltration group (0.23 vs. -0.04 mg/dl; P=0.003). There was no significant difference in weight loss at 96 hours (loss of 5.5 kg vs. 5.7kg; P=0.58).
A higher percentage of patients in the ultrafiltration group had a serious adverse event over the 60-day follow-up period (72% vs. 57%, P=0.03). There was no significant difference in the composite rate of death or rehospitalization for heart failure in the ultrafiltration group compared to the pharmacologic-therapy group (38% vs. 35%; P=0.96).
Bottom line: Pharmacological therapy is superior to ultrafiltration in patients with acute decompensated heart failure and worsened renal function.
Citation: Bart BA, Goldsmith SR, Lee KL, et al. Ultrafiltration in decompensated heart failure with cardiorenal syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2012;367:2296-2304.
Hospitalized Patients Often Receive Too Much Acetaminophen
Clinical question: What are the prevalence and factors associated with supratherapeutic dosing of acetaminophen in hospitalized patients?
Background: Acetaminophen is a commonly used medication that at high doses can be associated with significant adverse events, including liver failure. Considerable efforts have been made in the outpatient setting to limit the risks associated with acetaminophen. Little research has examined acetaminophen exposure in the inpatient setting.