Background: We studied the reasons why patients undergoing thoracenteses performed in our outpatient pulmonary clinic had a higher frequency of iatrogenic pneumothorax compared to that in the concurrent radiology practice in our institution, which utilizes ultrasound guidance. We reviewed our practice model and implemented a unique experiential training paradigm in a zero-risk simulation environment to improve efficacy, timeliness, service orientation, and safety.
Methods: We retrospectively determined the rate of clinically significant pneumothoraces in our practice (phase I, July 1, 2001, to June 30, 2002). The training system redesign included the following: (1) a designated group of pulmonologist instructors dedicated to treating pleural disease and reducing the number of iatrogenic complications; (2) the use of ultrasound image guidance for all thoracenteses; and (3) structured proficiency and competency standards for proceduralists. Postintervention (phase II) data were prospectively collected (January 2005 to December 2006) and compared with our baseline data.
Results: The baseline rate of pneumothorax was 8.6% (5 of 58 patients) in our pulmonary practice. Following intervention (phase II), the rate of pneumothorax declined to 1.1% (p = 0.0034). During phase II, the number of thoracenteses performed increased (186 vs 58 per year, respectively; p < 0.05). The iatrogenic pneumothorax rate was stable in the 2 years following intervention (2005, 0.7% [1 of 137 pneumothoraces]; 2006, 1.3% [3 of 226 pneumothoraces]; p > 0.9). Postintervention complications included procedure-related pain (n = 19), cough (n = 4), and hypotension (n = 10).
Conclusions: An improvement program that included simulation, ultrasound guidance, competency testing, and performance feedback reduced iatrogenic risk to patients. We recommend application of this process to procedural practices.