Performance failure of an evidence-based upper respiratory infection clinical guideline

Patrick J. O'Connor, Gerald Amundson, Jon Christianson

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26 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND. We evaluated an upper respiratory infection (URI) clinical guideline to determine if it would favorably affect the quality and cost of care in a health maintenance organization. METHODS. Patients with URI symptoms contacting 4 primary care practices before and after guideline implementation were compared to ascertain what proportion of all patients with respiratory symptoms were eligible for treatment in accordance with the URI guideline; what proportion of eligible patients were managed without an office visit; and what proportion of eligible patients were treated with antibiotics, before and after guideline implementation. RESULTS. A total of 3163 patients with respiratory symptoms were identified. Of these, 59% (n = 1880) had disqualifying symptoms or comorbid conditions for URI guideline care, and 28% (n = 1290) received disqualifying diagnoses on the day of first contact, leaving 13% (n = 408) who received a diagnosis of URI and were eligible for care in accordance with the guideline. Among this group of patients, the proportion who received guideline-recommended initial telephone care was 45% preguideline and 47% postguideline (χ2 = 0.40; P = .82). Likelihood of a subsequent office visit increased from pre- to postguideline (χ2 = 17.1; P <.01), although the majority of patients had no further diagnoses other than URI. Antibiotic use for the initial URI diagnosis declined from 24% preguideline to 16% postguideline (χ2 = 3.97; P = .046), but antibiotic use during 21-day follow-up did not change (F = 0.46, P = .66). The mean cost of initial care was $37.80 preguideline and $36.20 postguideline (P >.05). CONCLUSIONS. Only 13% of primary care patients with respiratory symptoms were eligible for URI guideline care. Among eligible patients, use of the guideline failed to decrease clinic visits, decrease antibiotic use during a 21-day period, or reduce cost of care to the health plan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)690-697
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Family Practice
Volume48
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 1999

Keywords

  • Antibiotics
  • Health care costs
  • Practice guidelines
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Treatment outcome

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