This report characterizes patterns of evaluation and monitoring of the health status of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) as observed in the Epidemiologic Study of Cystic Fibrosis (ESCF), and compares these practices to published guidelines. All patients (18,411) who enrolled in ESCF at 194 study sites in the United States and Canada from December 1, 1993 to December 31, 1995 were considered for study. Patients enrolled before January 1, 1995 with >/=1 healthcare encounters during 1995 (12,631) were included in the analysis. Patients enrolled after January 1, 1995 (5,266), or who died (354), withdrew from the study (128), or were lost to follow-up (21) were excluded. Frequency of encounters (outpatient and hospital), spirometry, respiratory tract cultures, and chest radiographs were recorded during a 1-year period (1995) and analyzed by gender, age, severity of lung disease, and presence of any Pseudomonas species in the respiratory tract. The 12,631 patients had 53,024 outpatient visits. In 57.5% of patients, the recommended criteria of >/=4 total visits per year were met. Only 27.4% of all patients had >/=4 routine visits; 3.1% had only sick visits, and 59.0% had no sick visits. One third (34.6%) were hospitalized at least once, for a total of 8,561 hospitalizations. Older patients with lower pulmonary function and Pseudomonas in their respiratory tract had fewer routine visits and more sick visits, and were hospitalized more than were younger patients. In three fourths (75.8%) of patients the recommended criterion of two spirometry assessments per year was met, whereas in 79.3% the criterion of one culture was met, and in 68.3% the criterion of one radiograph/year was met. We conclude that in the majority of CF patients, the recommended criteria for routine evaluation and monitoring were met. However, in a rather substantial number they were not. An increase in the utilization of healthcare resources was observed in patients with more severe disease. This information will help to establish benchmarks for future quality assessment programs.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.