Spirometry Utilization After Hospitalization for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Exacerbations

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the US population. An area of improvement hinges on early detection and proper monitoring. Spirometry is an important interventional tool; its underuse among hospitalized patients with COPD could affect quality of care. This study evaluates spirometry use at the Community Medical Center-Sierra in hospitalized patients with COPD. A retrospective medical record review from January 1, 2000, to March 15, 2002, assesses 1507 inpatients with COPD. The effects are analyzed of age, sex, race/ ethnicity, diagnosis, insurance status, disposition, and admitting service on spirometry use by physicians are analyzed. A questionnaire is used to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of residents toward spirometry ordering. Baseline characteristics are similar between study groups. Only 3% of 1476 study patients have spirometry performed within the recommended time frame, and only 12.2% have at least 1 spirometry performed. Patients having a primary diagnosis of COPD have a greater likelihood of having spirometry performed (20.3% vs 11.1%, P < .001), as do patients who are discharged to home (13.4% vs 5.9%, P = .001). No significant effects are noted for sex, race/ethnicity, insurance status, or admitting service. The house staff surveys reveal that most do not know the indications for (72.0%) or how to order (46.0%) spirometry. Spirometry is underused among physicians who treat hospitalized patients with COPD. Future educational efforts aimed at improving physicians' ordering and use of spirometry are needed to address this disparity. (Am J Med Qual 2009;24:61–66)

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