Management of spontaneous pneumothorax compared to British Thoracic Society (BTS) 2003 guidelines: a district general hospital audit

Prim Care Respir J. 2007 Oct;16(5):291-8. doi: 10.3132/pcrj.2007.00060.


Background: In 1993, the British Thoracic Society (BTS) issued guidelines for the management of spontaneous pneumothorax (SP). These were refined in 2003.

Aim: To determine adherence to the 2003 BTS SP guidelines in a district general hospital.

Methods: An initial retrospective audit of 52 episodes of acute SP was performed. Subsequent intervention involved a junior doctor educational update on both the 2003 BTS guidelines and the initial audit results, and the setting up of an online guideline hyperlink. After the educational intervention a further prospective re-audit of 28 SP episodes was performed.

Results: Management of SP deviated considerably from the 2003 BTS guidelines in the initial audit - deviation rate 26.9%. After the intervention, a number of clinical management deviations persisted (32.1% deviation rate); these included failure to insert a chest drain despite unsuccessful aspiration, and attempting aspiration of symptomatic secondary SPs.

Conclusion: Specific tools to improve standards might include a pneumothorax proforma to improve record keeping and a pneumothorax care pathway to reduce management deviations compared to BTS guidelines. Successful change also requires identification of the total target audience for any educational intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence* / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, General / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumothorax / therapy*
  • Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United Kingdom