Background: Community hospitals, which care for most hospitalised children in the USA, may be vulnerable to declines in paediatric care quality when quality improvement (QI) initiatives end. We aimed to evaluate changes in care quality in community hospitals after the end of the Pathways for Improving Paediatric Asthma Care (PIPA) national QI collaborative.
Methods: We conducted a longitudinal cohort study during and after PIPA. PIPA included 45 community hospitals, of which 34 completed the 12-month collaborative and were invited for extended sustainability monitoring (total of 21-24 months from collaborative start). PIPA provided paediatric asthma pathways, educational materials/seminars, QI mentorship, monthly data reports, a mobile application and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. Access to pathways, educational materials and the mobile application remained during sustainability monitoring. Charts were reviewed for children aged 2-17 years old hospitalised with a primary diagnosis of asthma (maximum 20 monthly per hospital). Outcomes included measures of guideline adherence (early bronchodilator administration via metered-dose inhaler (MDI), secondhand smoke screening and referral to smoking cessation resources) and length of stay (LOS). We evaluated outcomes using multilevel regression models adjusted for patient mix, using an interrupted time-series approach.
Results: We analysed 2159 hospitalisations from 23 hospitals (68% of eligible). Participating hospitals were structurally similar to those that dropped out but had more improvement in guideline adherence during the collaborative (29% vs 15%, p=0.02). The end of the collaborative was associated with a significant initial decrease in early MDI administration (81%-68%) (adjusted OR (aOR) 0.26 (95% CI 0.15 to 0.42)) and decreased rate of referral to smoking cessation resources (2.2% per month increase to 0.3% per month decrease) (aOR 0.86 (95% CI 0.75 to 0.98)) but no significant changes in LOS or secondhand smoke screening.
Conclusions: The end of a paediatric asthma QI collaborative was associated with concerning declines in guideline adherence in community hospitals.
Keywords: implementation science; paediatrics; quality improvement.
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