Saturday, March 18, 2006

With Pneumonia Care, Higher Volume Hospitals Do Worse

This study suggests that high volumes, at least in the case of pneumonia, can adversely effect quality of care.

From Volume, Quality of Care, and Outcome in Pneumonia -- Lindenauer et al. 144 (4): 262 -- Annals of Internal Medicine:
Results: Physician volume was unrelated to the timeliness of administration of antibiotics and the obtainment of blood cultures; however, physicians in the highest-volume quartile had lower rates of screening for and administration of influenza (21%, 19%, 20%, and 12% for quartiles 1 through 4, respectively; P 0.01) and pneumococcal (16%, 13%, 13%, and 9% for quartiles 1 through 4, respectively; P 0.01) vaccines. Among hospitals, the percentage of patients who received antibiotics within 4 hours of hospital arrival was inversely related to pneumonia volume (72%, 64%, 60%, and 56% for quartiles 1 through 4, respectively; P 0.01), while selection of antibiotic, obtainment of blood cultures, and rates of immunization were similar. Physician volume was not associated with in-hospital or 30-day mortality rates. Odds ratios for in-hospital mortality rates rose with increasing hospital volume (1.14 [95% CI, 0.87 to 1.49], 1.34 [CI, 1.03 to 1.75], and 1.32 [CI, 0.97 to 1.80] for quartiles 2 to 4, respectively); however, odds ratios for 30-day mortality rates were similar...

Conclusion: Among both physicians and hospitals, higher pneumonia volume is associated with reduced adherence to selected guideline recommendations and no measurable improvement in patient outcomes.
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