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Clinical pathway for acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: method development and five years of experience

Authors Nishimura K, Yasui, Nishimura T, Oga T

Published 29 June 2011 Volume 2011:6 Pages 365—372


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Koichi Nishimura1, Maya Yasui2, Takashi Nishimura2, Toru Oga3
Department of Internal Medicine, Kaikoukai Jousai Hospital, Aichi, Japan; 2Kyoto-Katsura Hospital, Kyoto, Japan; 3Department of Respiratory Care and Sleep Control Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

Background: Randomized controlled trials, evidence-based medicine, clinical guidelines, and total quality management are some of the approaches used to render science-based health care services. The clinical pathway for hospitalized patients suffering from acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD) is poorly established, although a clinical pathway is an integral part of total quality management.
Aim: To evaluate the outcomes of patients hospitalized with AECOPD in Japan, treated with a clinical pathway following published guidelines.
Methods: Prospective data were collected for patients with AECOPD admitted to a general hospital over a 5-year period since 2003. The clinical pathway was designed to establish general rules for the entire treatment protocol. The clinical pathway indicates which treatments and interventions should be performed, and when. In this study, health care providers were required to check the clinical pathway sheets to determine the next step of treatment.
Results: This study analyzed 276 hospitalizations in 165 patients. The clinical pathway was interrupted and defined as a dropout in 45 cases (16.3%). Nine patients died during hospitalization (3.3%). Oxygen was administered in 232 hospitalizations (84.1%). Noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) treatment was administered in 110 hospitalizations (39.9%). The rate of intubation in those cases where NPPV treatment had been administered was 8.2% (9 cases out of 110). The average length of stay (LOS) was 20.3 days, and the median value was 15 days. The LOS was longer than 30 days in 34 admissions (12.3%), mainly due to complications.
Conclusion: AECOPD can be managed using a clinical pathway. This clinical pathway could fill the gap between guidelines and clinical practice.

Keywords: COPD, AECOPD, mortality, pulmonary rehabilitation

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