Context: Quality of care of patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) has received intense attention. However, it is unknown if a structured initiative for improving care of patients with AMI can be effectively implemented at a wide variety of hospitals.
Objective: To measure the effects of a quality improvement project on adherence to evidence-based therapies for patients with AMI.
Design and setting: The Guidelines Applied in Practice (GAP) quality improvement project, which consisted of baseline measurement, implementation of improvement strategies, and remeasurement, in 10 acute-care hospitals in southeast Michigan.
Patients: A random sample of Medicare and non-Medicare patients at baseline (July 1998--June 1999; n = 735) and following intervention (September 1--December 15, 2000; n = 914) admitted at the 10 study centers for treatment of confirmed AMI. A random sample of Medicare patients at baseline (January--December 1998; n = 513) and at remeasurement (March--August 2001; n = 388) admitted to 11 hospitals that volunteered, but were not selected, served as a control group.
Intervention: The GAP project consisted of a kickoff presentation; creation of customized, guideline-oriented tools designed to facilitate adherence to key quality indicators; identification and assignment of local physician and nurse opinion leaders; grand rounds site visits; and premeasurement and postmeasurement of quality indicators.
Main outcome measures: Differences in adherence to quality indicators (use of aspirin, beta-blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme [ACE] inhibitors at discharge; time to reperfusion; smoking cessation and diet counseling; and cholesterol assessment and treatment) in ideal patients, compared between baseline and postintervention samples and among Medicare patients in GAP hospitals and the control group.
Results: Increases in adherence to key treatments were seen in the administration of aspirin (81% vs 87%; P =.02) and beta-blockers (65% vs 74%; P =.04) on admission and use of aspirin (84% vs 92%; P =.002) and smoking cessation counseling (53% vs 65%; P =.02) at discharge. For most of the other indicators, nonsignificant but favorable trends toward improvement in adherence to treatment goals were observed. Compared with the control group, Medicare patients in GAP hospitals showed a significant increase in the use of aspirin at discharge (5% vs 10%; P<.001). Use of aspirin on admission, ACE inhibitors at discharge, and documentation of smoking cessation also showed a trend for greater improvement among GAP hospitals compared with control hospitals, although none of these were statistically significant. Evidence of tool use noted during chart review was associated with a very high level of adherence to most quality indicators.
Conclusions: Implementation of guideline-based tools for AMI may facilitate quality improvement among a variety of institutions, patients, and caregivers. This initial project provides a foundation for future initiatives aimed at quality improvement.