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Comparative study on health care utilization and hospital outcomes of severe acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease managed by pulmonologists vs internists

Authors Pothirat C, Liwsrisakun C, Bumroongkit C, Deesomchok A, Theerakittikul T, Limsukon A

Received 20 January 2015

Accepted for publication 10 March 2015

Published 13 April 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 759—766


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Chaicharn Pothirat, Chalerm Liwsrisakun, Chaiwat Bumroongkit, Athavudh Deesomchok, Theerakorn Theerakittikul, Atikun Limsukon

Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Allergy, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Background: Care for many chronic health conditions is delivered by both specialists and generalists. Differences in patients’ quality of care and management between generalists and specialists have been well documented for asthma, whereas a few studies for COPD reported no differences.
Objective: The objective of this study is to compare consistency with Global initiative for chronic Obstructive Lung Disease guidelines, as well as rate, health care utilization, and hospital outcomes of severe acute exacerbation (AE) of COPD patients managed by pulmonologists and internists.
Materials and methods: This is a 12-month prospective, comparative observational study among 208 COPD patients who were regularly managed by pulmonologists (Group A) and internists (Group B). Clinical data, health care utilization, and hospital outcomes of the two groups were statistically compared.
Results: Out of 208 enrolled patients, 137 (Group A) and 71 (Group B) were managed by pulmonologists and internists, respectively. Pharmacological treatment corresponding to disease severity stages between the two groups was not statistically different. Group A received care consistent with guidelines in terms of annual influenza vaccination (31.4% vs 9.9%, P<0.001) and pulmonary rehabilitation (24.1% vs 0%, P<0.001) greater than Group B. Group A had reduced rates (12.4% vs 23.9%, P=0.033) and numbers of severe AE (0.20±0.63 person-years vs 0.41±0.80 person-years, P=0.029). Among patients with severe AE requiring mechanical ventilation, Group A had reduced mechanical ventilator duration (1.5 [1–7] days vs 5 [3–29] days, P=0.005), hospital length of stay (3.5 [1–20] days vs 16 [6–29] days, P=0.012), and total hospital cost ($863 [247–2,496] vs $2,095 [763–6,792], P=0.049) as compared with Group B.
Conclusion: This study demonstrated that pulmonologists followed national COPD guidelines more closely than internists. The rates and frequencies of severe AE were significantly lower in patients managed by pulmonologists, and length of hospital stay and cost were significantly lower among the patients with severe AE who required mechanical ventilation.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, guidelines, specialization, management

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