Background: Assessment of inpatient asthma management has generally been limited to urban settings, including Chicago, which is known for its high asthma morbidity and mortality. Previously published data have been based on survey methodology. The Suburban Asthma Consortium (SAC) sought to obtain patient-based data unique to the Chicago suburbs to improve asthma care in those areas.
Objective: To evaluate current inpatient asthma management based on the 1997 National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP).
Design: Retrospective chart review of all hospitalized patients 3-65 years bearing asthma-related ICD-9 codes for fiscal year 2002 in community, nonteaching hospitals in Chicago suburbs.
Results: Nine hundred two cases were submitted from seven hospitals. The majority ( > or = 75%) received inhaled bronchodilators, systemic steroids, oxygen and pulse oximetry. Antibiotic use (67%), chest radiography (85%), complete blood count (77%), and electrolytes (59%) appeared excessive in view of NAEPP recommendations. Peak flow monitoring (PFM) was recorded on admission in 45% of patients 5 years old and older; 52% had PFM during hospitalization. Thirty-eight percent of patients were taking ICS prior to admission; of those not on ICS, only 12% were newly diagnosed asthmatics. Overall, 51% of patients were discharged with ICS. Patients were more likely to receive ICS at discharge if they had required intensive care (ICU), had been on ICS prior to admission, were referred to an asthma specialist while hospitalized, or were insured. Patients with Medicare/Medicaid (MC/MA) had more repeat emergency visits and hospitalizations, longer lengths of stay, and received less ICS at discharge. Depending on the parameter, 41% or less patients received discharge planning education and were not more likely to have received education if in the ICU. Results ranged significantly between hospitals for most parameters (p < 0.05 or less).
Conclusion: Study subjects received appropriate acute therapy and oxygen monitoring, but there was a divergence from NAEPP recommendations regarding PFM, ICS use, antibiotics, and laboratory evaluation. Patients receiving MC/MA experienced higher morbidity and received less ICS. Discharge asthma education was suboptimal for most hospitals. Most parameters demonstrated significantly wide practice variations between hospitals. Peak flow monitoring and patient education findings differed significantly from those in survey-conducted studies.