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J Qual Clin Pract. 1998 Jun;18(2):125-33.

Severe exacerbation of chronic obstructive airways disease: health resource use in general practice and hospital.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, John Hunter Hospital, Hunter Region Mail Centre, NSW, Australia.


The objective of this study is to examine the treatment of exacerbations of chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD) in the hospital and in the community setting using a retrospective study of patients admitted to a major teaching hospital combined with a general practice chart audit. The admission records for 248 admissions from 128 patients were reviewed. Most patients (70%) had visited their GP within 2 weeks of admission, antibiotics were prescribed for 30% of the exacerbations while 51% were treated with ingested corticosteroids. During hospitalization, features of infection were present in 64% (n = 159) of exacerbations and 79% (n = 196) received antibiotics. Patients were also treated with nebulized bronchodilators, oxygen and corticosteroids (82%). The median length of stay was 10 days (range 0-55). There was a high readmission rate (70%) at 1 year for exacerbation of COAD during the study period. Exacerbations of COAD frequently demonstrated the clinical features of infection. Treatment in general practice was less intensive than in hospital, and there is a need to reconcile these differences with studies of early therapy with antibiotics and corticosteroids. Although corticosteroids were used less often in general practice, the literature in this area is not conclusive and the evidence supporting guideline recommendations is not explicit. There are opportunities to examine the role of early therapy and early discharge programmes to minimize the cost burden from exacerbations of COAD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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