Compliance with guidelines for emergency management of asthma in adults: experience at a tertiary care teaching hospital

CJEM. 2004 Sep;6(5):321-6. doi: 10.1017/s1481803500009581.


Objectives: Despite evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the emergency management of asthma, substantial treatment variation exists. Our objective was to assess compliance with the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) / Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) Asthma Advisory Committee's "Guidelines for the emergency management of asthma in adults" in the emergency department (ED) of a university-affiliated tertiary care teaching hospital.

Methods: This retrospective study was conducted in a Canadian inner city adult ED. Investigators reviewed all ED records for the period from Jan. 1, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2001, and identified adult patients (i.e., >18 years of age) with a primary ED diagnosis of asthma. Hospital records were then reviewed to document compliance with the CAEP/CTS asthma guidelines. Descriptive statistics, including means, standard deviations and frequencies were used to summarize information.

Results: Overall compliance with the guidelines was 69.6%, (95% confidence interval, 64.7%-74.5%), but compliance ranged from 41.4% for severe asthma, 67.1% for moderate asthma, and 88.6% for mild asthma. Interobserver reliability for compliance assessment was excellent.

Conclusions: Despite publication and dissemination of evidence-based guidelines for the management of acute asthma in adults, guideline compliance at a university-affiliated, inner city, tertiary care teaching hospital ED is suboptimal.