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.