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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 20, Issue 3, Pages 175-179
Original Article

Variations in the Management of Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Supna K Sandhu, Jackson Chu, Marko Yurkovich, David Harriman, Catalin Taraboanta, and J Mark FitzGerald

Departments of Medicine and Emergency Medicine, and the Institute for Heart and Lung Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD) are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality for patients with COPD. AECOPD are the leading cause of hospital admissions in Canada. Although multiple guidelines have been developed for the acute and chronic management of COPD, there are few quality assurance studies investigating adherence to these guidelines.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review of all patients admitted to a tertiary care hospital in 2009 for an AECOPD was performed. Using a standardized data abstraction tool, adherence to current guidelines across different physician groups and patient outcomes were assessed. Particular focus was centred on differences in management across physician groups.

RESULTS: Overall, 293 patients were evaluated. Of these, 82.6% were treated with one or more chronic COPD medication(s) in the community, with only 17.7% of patients treated with a long-acting inhaled anticholinergic medication. For treatment of AECOPD, 58% of patients received corticosteroids and 84% received antibiotics. Compared with general medicine and the hospitalist service, the respiratory medicine service demonstrated significantly better adherence with current treatment guidelines; however, even this was less than optimal. In addition, there was poor follow-up of patients cared for outside of the respiratory service.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study identified significant care gaps in the treatment of patients admitted with AECOPD and on their discharge.