Objective: Asthma is common and commonly under-treated. Currently quality indicators often do not provide specific directions for areas of improvement. This work lays the foundation for a quality improvement initiative that provides practice-specific feedback related directly to clinical activities completed for individual patients with asthma.
Methods: Medical record review using a group of quality assessment elements developed from previous medical record review studies of asthma care and the NAEPP asthma care guidelines.
Results: For 500 school children ages 5-18 yr who made one or more asthma visits in the year of interest, the frequency of daytime asthma symptoms were recorded in 54% of patients' medical records at any time during a one-year period, while nighttime symptom frequency was recorded in 33%. Only 12% of medical records recorded any information on missed work, school or activity days. Nine percent recorded information or acknowledged any asthma "triggers". Asthma severity level was documented in only an additional 4% of the children's records. Most medical records documented prescribed asthma medications and dosages (85%) but few recorded the medications or dosages the patients were actually taking.
Conclusions: Many medical records do not include the basic clinical information required to assess asthma severity, adherence to asthma therapy or the response to therapy. This lack of information makes implementation of asthma care guidelines impossible. Therefore, these measures may be useful baseline quality indicators to begin the process of improving asthma care.