Background: The purpose of this study was to determine the standard of care provided by academic medical centers for the management of congestive heart failure (CHF).
Methods and results: The standard of care was estimated by assessing adherence to the treatment guidelines published by the US Agency for Health Care Policy and Research among 522 patients hospitalized at 7 university hospitals with a diagnosis of CHF. Data were abstracted by retrospective chart review. Of the 522 patients analyzed, 435 (83%) had a left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) measured or documented. Among these patients, 192 were considered "ideal" candidates for angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor therapy (ie, with systolic dysfunction [LVEF <40%] and no contraindications to ACE inhibitors). In this cohort of "ideal" candidates, 138 (72%) were receiving ACE inhibitors at hospital discharge, including 60 (44%) who were prescribed doses recommended in large clinical trials. Compliance with patient education guidelines was assessed in all 487 patients who were alive at the time of discharge. Of these patients, 365 (75%) received dietary counseling, 404 (83%) were educated about exercise, 54 (11%) were instructed to follow daily weights, and 468 (96%) were counseled regarding medication compliance. Among the 87 smokers who were alive at time of discharge, 8 (9%) had documented advice to quit smoking.
Conclusions: This study indicates that academic medical centers performed fairly well on the assessment of LVEF, the prescription of ACE inhibitors at discharge, and on education regarding diet, exercise, and compliance with medications. However, the results suggest opportunities for improvement in ACE inhibitor dosing and patient education regarding the importance of monitoring daily weights and smoking cessation.