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Changing anesthesiologists’ practice patterns. Can it be done?


Background — Because the ultimate purpose of new medical knowledge is to achieve improved health outcomes, physicians need to possess and use this knowledge in their practice. The authors introduced enhanced education and individualized feedback to reduce postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV). The primary objective was to increase anesthesiologists' use of preventive measures to reduce PONV, and the secondary objective was to determine whether patient outcomes were improved.

Methods — After obtaining hospital ethics committee approval, the effect of education and feedback on anesthesiologist performance and the rate of PONV in major surgery elective inpatients during a 2-yr period was assessed. After baseline data collection (6 months), anesthesiologists at the study hospital received enhanced education (8 months) and individualized feedback (10 months). Parallel data collection was performed at a control hospital at which practice was continued as usual. The education promoted preventive measures (antiemetic premedication, nasogastric tubes, droperidol, metoclopramide). Individualized feedback provided the number of patients receiving promoted measures and the rate of PONV. The mean percentage of anesthesiologists' patients receiving at least one promoted measure and the rate of PONV were compared with baseline levels.

Results — At the study hospital, there was a significant increase in the mean percentage of the anesthesiologists' female patients receiving a preventive measure as well as a significant increase in the use of droperidol > or = 1 mg (P < 0.05) for all patients. The use of other promoted measures was unaffected. Absolute rates of PONV were unaffected at the study hospital until the post-feedback period (decrease of 8.8% between baseline and post-feedback (P = 0.015)).

Conclusion — It was demonstrated that enhanced education and individualized feedback can change anesthesiologists' practice patterns. The actual benefit to patients from use of preventive measures was limited when used in the everyday clinical situation. Therefore, only modest decreases in PONV were achieved, despite the use of preventive measures.



Cohen MM, Rose DK, Yee DA. Anesthesiology. 1996; 85(2):260-9.

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