(In)accuracy of blood pressure measurement in 14 Italian hospitals


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Abstract

Objectives:The diagnosis and control of hypertension depend on accurate measurement of blood pressure (BP). The literature on the accuracy of BP recording by health professionals is, however, limited, and no study directly interviewed patients in the hospital setting. This multicenter cross-sectional study aimed at evaluating the compliance to current recommendations on BP measurement by health professionals directly from patients and to investigate potential predictors of higher quality in BP recording.Methods:A trained nurse interviewed a random sample of adult patients hospitalized for an ordinary admission (except in the emergency room) lasting more than one night, without mental disorder, who had their BP routinely measured by the hospital personnel less than 3 h before. The questionnaire contained 15 items on the main procedures that are common to current guidelines.Results:Fourteen public hospitals from seven regions of Italy participated, and 1334 questionnaires were collected. Nine of the recommended practices were followed in the majority (>70%) of BP recordings, whereas some others were infrequent or rare: in 98.6, 82.2 and 81.1% of the participants, respectively, the arm circumference was never recorded, BP was measured only once, and BP was never recorded in both arms. Overall, 10 or more recommended procedures were followed during 33.4% recordings. At multivariate analysis, physicians were less likely than nurses to provide a more accurate BP measurement.Conclusions:The operator's compliance to some recommendations in BP measurement is unacceptably low. This survey provides detailed indications for medical directors on the procedures and settings to prioritize in educational programs, which are definitely needed.

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