Background — Practice guidelines for the management of congestive heart failure (CHF) emphasize the need for assessment of left ventricular function and treatment with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. However, previous studies have shown that many patients do not receive these tests or medications. The objective of this study was to evaluate the compliance of physicians at a large Canadian teaching hospital with published CHF management guidelines.
Methods — We conducted a retrospective review of the charts of 200 patients admitted to Sunnybrook & Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, in 1997 for whom CHF was the diagnosis most responsible for the hospital admission. Quality of care was measured with 3 indicators: the use of left ventricular function testing to determine systolic versus diastolic dysfunction; the prescription of ACE inhibitors to appropriate patients (those with systolic dysfunction, no contraindications to ACE inhibitor therapy and no angiotensin II receptor blocker use); and the prescription of target doses of ACE inhibitors.
Results — Of the 200 patients 177 (88.5%) received left ventricular function testing before or during their hospital stay; of the 177, 117 (66.1%) had systolic dysfunction. A total of 100 patients were considered to be ideal candidates for ACE inhibitor treatment. Of the 100, 89 (89.0%) received ACE inhibitors; however, only 23 (23.0%) were prescribed target doses.
Interpretation — Most patients who had CHF at this Canadian hospital received left ventricular function testing and ACE inhibitor therapy. Future educational efforts should focus on the importance of adequate dosing of ACE inhibitors.
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Health care evaluation