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1.  A meta-analysis to derive literature-based benchmarks for readmission and hospital mortality after patient discharge from intensive care 
Critical Care  2014;18(6):715.
We sought to derive literature-based summary estimates of readmission to the ICU and hospital mortality among patients discharged alive from the ICU.
We searched MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from inception to March 2013, as well as the reference lists in the publications of the included studies. We selected cohort studies of ICU discharge prognostic factors that in which readmission to the ICU or hospital mortality among patients discharged alive from the ICU was reported. Two reviewers independently abstracted the number of patients readmitted to the ICU and hospital deaths among patients discharged alive from the ICU. Fixed effects and random effects models were used to estimate the pooled cumulative incidence of ICU readmission and the pooled cumulative incidence of hospital mortality.
The analysis included 58 studies (n = 2,073,170 patients). The majority of studies followed patients until hospital discharge (n = 46 studies) and reported readmission to the ICU (n = 46 studies) or hospital mortality (n = 49 studies). The cumulative incidence of ICU readmission was 4.0 readmissions (95% confidence interval (CI), 3.9 to 4.0) per 100 patient discharges using fixed effects pooling and 6.3 readmissions (95% CI, 5.6 to 6.9) per 100 patient discharges using random effects pooling. The cumulative incidence of hospital mortality was 3.3 deaths (95% CI, 3.3 to 3.3) per 100 patient discharges using fixed effects pooling and 6.8 deaths (95% CI, 6.1 to 7.6) per 100 patient discharges using random effects pooling. There was significant heterogeneity for the pooled estimates, which was partially explained by patient, institution and study methodological characteristics.
Using current literature estimates, for every 100 patients discharged alive from the ICU, between 4 and 6 patients on average will be readmitted to the ICU and between 3 and 7 patients on average will die prior to hospital discharge. These estimates can inform the selection of benchmarks for quality metrics of transitions of patient care between the ICU and the hospital ward.
PMCID: PMC4312433  PMID: 25551448
2.  An assessment of the efficacy of searching in biomedical databases beyond MEDLINE in identifying studies for a systematic review on ward closures as an infection control intervention to control outbreaks 
Systematic Reviews  2014;3:135.
The purpose of our study is to determine the value and efficacy of searching biomedical databases beyond MEDLINE for systematic reviews.
We analyzed the results from a systematic review conducted by the authors and others on ward closure as an infection control practice. Ovid MEDLINE including In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, Ovid Embase, CINAHL Plus, LILACS, and IndMED were systematically searched for articles of any study type discussing ward closure, as were bibliographies of selected articles and recent infection control conference abstracts. Search results were tracked, recorded, and analyzed using a relative recall method. The sensitivity of searching in each database was calculated.
Two thousand ninety-five unique citations were identified and screened for inclusion in the systematic review: 2,060 from database searching and 35 from hand searching and other sources. Ninety-seven citations were included in the final review. MEDLINE and Embase searches each retrieved 80 of the 97 articles included, only 4 articles from each database were unique. The CINAHL search retrieved 35 included articles, and 4 were unique. The IndMED and LILACS searches did not retrieve any included articles, although 75 of the included articles were indexed in LILACS. The true value of using regional databases, particularly LILACS, may lie with the ability to search in the language spoken in the region. Eight articles were found only through hand searching.
Identifying studies for a systematic review where the research is observational is complex. The value each individual study contributes to the review cannot be accurately measured. Consequently, we could not determine the value of results found from searching beyond MEDLINE, Embase, and CINAHL with accuracy. However, hand searching for serendipitous retrieval remains an important aspect due to indexing and keyword challenges inherent in this literature.
PMCID: PMC4231196  PMID: 25387523
Bibliographic databases; MEDLINE; Embase; Information retrieval; Bibliometrics; Sensitivity; Specificity; Systematic review
3.  The effect of a regional care model on cardiac catheterization rates in patients with Acute Coronary Syndromes 
Patients with ACS often present to community hospitals without on-site cardiac catheterization and revascularization therapies. Transfer to specialized cardiac procedural centers is necessary to provide access to these procedures. We evaluated process of care within a regional care model by comparing cardiac catheterization and revascularization rates and outcomes in ACS patients presenting to community and interventional hospitals.
We evaluated a total of 6154 patients with ACS admitted to Southern Alberta hospitals (where a distinct regional care model for ACS exists) between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2009. We compared cardiac catheterization and revascularization rates during index hospitalization among patients admitted to community and interventional hospitals. Thirty day and 1-year survival were also evaluated.
Catheterization was performed more often in patients presenting to community hospitals compared to the interventional facility (respectively 69.5% and 51.4%, p < 0.0001). Catheterization within 72 hours of admission occurred in 48% of patients presenting to the interventional center and in 68.3% of community patients (P < 0.0001). In patients undergoing catheterization, revascularization (PCI and/or CABG) was also performed more frequently in the community group (74.5% vs 56.1%, P < 0.0001). Risk adjusted mortality rates were the same for patients undergoing cardiac catheterization regardless of hospital of initial presentation.
ACS patients presenting to community centers associated with a regional care model had effective access to cardiac catheterization and revascularization. These findings support the importance of regional initiatives and processes of care that facilitate access to cardiac catheterization for all ACS patients.
PMCID: PMC4230349  PMID: 25496485
Acute coronary syndrome; Catheterization; Mortality; Registries; Regional care model
4.  Sex-based disparities in cardioprotective medication use in adults with diabetes 
The identification of sex-based disparities in the use of effective medications in high-risk populations can lead to interventions to minimize disparities in health outcomes. The objective of this study was to determine sex-specific rates of cardioprotective medication use in a large population-level administrative-health database from a universal-payer environment.
Research design and methods
This observational, population-based cohort study used provincial administrative data to compare the utilization of cardioprotective medications between women and men in the first year following a diabetes diagnosis. Competing risks regression was used to calculate crude and adjusted sub-hazard ratios for time-to-first angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor, angiotensin receptor blocker, or statin dispensations.
There were 15,120 (45.4%) women and 18,174 (54.6%) men with diabetes in the study cohort. Overall cardioprotective medication use was low for both primary and secondary prevention for both women and men. In the year following a diabetes diagnosis, women were less likely to use a statin relative to men (adjusted sub-hazard ratio [aSHR] 0.90, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.85 to 0.96), angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors (aSHR 0.90, 95% CI 0.86 to 0.94), or any cardioprotective medication (aSHR 0.93, 95% CI 0.90 to 0.97).
Cardioprotective medication use was not optimal in women or men. We also identified a health care gap with cardioprotective medication use being lower in women with diabetes compared to men. Closing this gap has the potential to reduce the impact of cardiovascular disease in women with diabetes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1758-5996-6-117) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4240896  PMID: 25419242
5.  Hospital ward design and prevention of hospital-acquired infections: A prospective clinical trial 
Several factors related to the hospital environment may affect the spread of hospital-acquired infections including ward design characteristics such as the number and location of handwashing stations and washrooms, and the number of beds per room. However, opportunities to study the effects of these factors are rare. The authors of this study conducted an analysis of the number of hospital-acquired infections in an older, ‘historic design’ hospital ward compared with a recently built ‘new design’ ward.
Renovation of a general medical ward provided an opportunity to study health care facility design as a factor for preventing hospital-acquired infections.
To determine whether a hospital ward designed with predominantly single rooms was associated with lower event rates of hospital-acquired infection and colonization.
A prospective controlled trial with patient allocation incorporating randomness was designed with outcomes on multiple ‘historic design’ wards (mainly four-bed rooms with shared bathrooms) compared with outcomes on a newly renovated ‘new design’ ward (predominantly single rooms with private bathrooms).
Using Poisson regression analysis and adjusting for time at risk, there were no differences (P=0.18) in the primary outcome (2.96 versus 1.85 events/1000 patient-days, respectively). After adjustment for age, sex, Charlson score, admitted from care facility, previous hospitalization within six months, isolation requirement and the duration on antibiotics, the incidence rate ratio was 1.44 (95% CI 0.71 to 2.94) for the new design versus the historic design wards. A restricted analysis on the numbers of events occurring in single-bed versus multibed wings within the new design ward revealed an event incidence density of 1.89 versus 3.47 events/1000 patient-days, respectively (P=0.18), and an incidence rate ratio of 0.54 (95% CI 0.15 to 1.30).
No difference in the incidence density of hospital-acquired infections or colonizations was observed for medical patients admitted to a new design ward versus historic design wards. A restricted analysis of events occurring in single-bed versus multibed wings suggests that ward design warrants further study.
PMCID: PMC4211350  PMID: 25371689
Antibiotic-resistant organism; Controlled trial; Hospital-acquired infection; Incidence density; Multibed room; Physical plant; Single room; Ward design
6.  Medical applications: a database and characterization of apps in Apple iOS and Android platforms 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7(1):573.
Medical applications (apps) for smart phones and tablet computers are growing in number and are commonly used in healthcare. In this context, there is a need for a diverse community of app users, medical researchers, and app developers to better understand the app landscape.
In mid-2012, we undertook an environmental scan and classification of the medical app landscape in the two dominant platforms by searching the medical category of the Apple iTunes and Google Play app download sites. We identified target audiences, functions, costs and content themes using app descriptions and captured these data in a database. We only included apps released or updated between October 1, 2011 and May 31, 2012, with a primary “medical” app store categorization, in English, that contained health or medical content. Our sample of Android apps was limited to the most popular apps in the medical category.
Our final sample of Apple iOS (n = 4561) and Android (n = 293) apps illustrate a diverse medical app landscape. The proportion of Apple iOS apps for the public (35%) and for physicians (36%) is similar. Few Apple iOS apps specifically target nurses (3%). Within the Android apps, those targeting the public dominated in our sample (51%). The distribution of app functions is similar in both platforms with reference being the most common function. Most app functions and content themes vary considerably by target audience. Social media apps are more common for patients and the public, while conference apps target physicians.
We characterized existing medical apps and illustrated their diversity in terms of target audience, main functions, cost and healthcare topic. The resulting app database is a resource for app users, app developers and health informatics researchers.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1756-0500-7-573) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4156621  PMID: 25167765
App; Application; Software; Smartphone; Handheld computer; Mobile health
7.  Likelihood of coronary angiography among First Nations patients with acute myocardial infarction 
Morbidity due to cardiovascular disease is high among First Nations people. The extent to which this may be related to the likelihood of coronary angiography is unclear. We examined the likelihood of coronary angiography after acute myocardial infarction (MI) among First Nations and non–First Nations patients.
Our study included adults with incident acute MI between 1997 and 2008 in Alberta. We determined the likelihood of angiography among First Nations and non–First Nations patients, adjusted for important confounders, using the Alberta Provincial Project for Outcome Assessment in Coronary Heart Disease (APPROACH) database.
Of the 46 764 people with acute MI, 1043 (2.2%) were First Nations. First Nations patients were less likely to receive angiography within 1 day after acute MI (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.73, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.62–0.87). Among First Nations and non–First Nations patients who underwent angiography (64.9%), there was no difference in the likelihood of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 0.92, 95% CI 0.83–1.02) or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) (adjusted HR 1.03, 95% CI 0.85–1.25). First Nations people had worse survival if they received medical management alone (adjusted HR 1.38, 95% CI 1.07–1.77) or if they underwent PCI (adjusted HR 1.38, 95% CI 1.06–1.80), whereas survival was similar among First Nations and non–First Nations patients who received CABG.
First Nations people were less likely to undergo angiography after acute MI and experienced worse long-term survival compared with non–First Nations people. Efforts to improve access to angiography for First Nations people may improve outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4081235  PMID: 24847149
8.  Health system capacity and infrastructure for adopting innovations to care for patients with venous thromboembolic disease 
Open Medicine  2014;8(2):e46-e53.
Diagnosis and treatment for venous thromboembolic disease (VTE) have evolved considerably through diagnostic and therapeutic innovations. Despite their considerable potential for enhancing care, however, the extent to which these innovations are being adopted in usual practice is unknown. We documented the infrastructure available in hospitals and health regions across Canada for provision of optimal diagnosis and therapy for VTE disease.
Over the period January 2008 through October 2009, we studied health system infrastructure for care of VTE disease in Canada's 10 provinces and 3 territories and all 94 health regions therein. We interviewed health system managers and/or clinical leaders from all 658 acute care hospitals in Canada and documented key elements of health system infrastructure at the hospital level for these institutions.
There was considerable variation across Canada in the availability of key infrastructure for the diagnosis and management of VTE disease. Provinces with higher populations tended to have a large proportion of hospitals with capability to measure d-dimer levels, whereas less populated provinces were more likely to send samples to centralized analysis facilities for d-dimer testing. All provinces and territories had some facilities offering advanced diagnostic imaging, but the number of institutions and the availability of imaging were highly variable (with the proportion offering at least limited availability ranging from 0% to 90%). Only 6 provinces had regions with availability of dedicated early and/or long-term outpatient clinics for VTE disease.
Infrastructure in Canada for optimal care of patients with VTE disease was suboptimal during the study period and was not entirely in step with the evidence. Such shortfalls in health system infrastructure limit the extent to which health care providers can deliver optimal, evidence-based care to their patients. Nationwide evaluations of health system infrastructure such as this one should be undertaken internationally to better characterize quality of care and potential for improvement.
PMCID: PMC4085085  PMID: 25009684
9.  A real-time locating system observes physician time-motion patterns during walk-rounds: a pilot study 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:37.
Walk-rounds, a common component of medical education, usually consist of a combination of teaching outside the patient room as well as in the presence of the patient, known as bedside teaching. The proportion of time dedicated to bedside teaching has been declining despite research demonstrating its benefits. Increasing complexities of patient care and perceived impediments to workflow are cited as reasons for this declining use. Research using real-time locating systems (RTLS) has been purported to improve workflow through monitoring of patients and equipment. We used RTLS technology to observe and track patterns of movement of attending physicians during a mandatory once-weekly medical teaching team patient care rounding session endorsed as a walk-rounds format.
During a project to assess the efficacy of RTLS technology to track equipment and patients in a clinical setting, we conducted a small-scale pilot study to observe attending physician walk-round patterns during a mandatory once-weekly team rounding session. A consecutive sample of attending physicians on the unit was targeted, eight agreed to participate. Data collected using the RTLS were pictorially represented as linked points overlaying a floor plan of the unit to represent each physician’s motion through time. Visual analysis of time-motion was independently performed by two researchers and disagreement resolved through consensus. Rounding events were described as a sequence of approximate proportions of time engaged within or outside patient rooms.
The patient care rounds varied in duration from 60 to 425 minutes. Median duration of rounds within patient rooms was approximately 33% of total time (range approximately 20-50%). Three general time-motion rounding patterns were observed: a first pattern that predominantly involved rounding in ward hallways and little time in patient rooms; a second pattern that predominantly involved time in a ward conference room; and a third balanced pattern characterized by equal proportions of time in patient rooms and in ward hallways.
Observation using RTLS technology identified distinct time-motion rounding patterns that hint at differing rounding styles across physicians. Future studies using this technology could examine how the division of time during walk-rounds impacts outcomes such as patient satisfaction, learner satisfaction, and physician workflow.
PMCID: PMC3974061  PMID: 24568589
Physicians; Real-time locating system; Teaching rounds; Patients’ rooms; Movement; Workflow
10.  Reference management software for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: an exploration of usage and usability 
Reference management software programs enable researchers to more easily organize and manage large volumes of references typically identified during the production of systematic reviews. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which authors are using reference management software to produce systematic reviews; identify which programs are used most frequently and rate their ease of use; and assess the degree to which software usage is documented in published studies.
We reviewed the full text of systematic reviews published in core clinical journals indexed in ACP Journal Club from 2008 to November 2011 to determine the extent to which reference management software usage is reported in published reviews. We surveyed corresponding authors to verify and supplement information in published reports, and gather frequency and ease-of-use data on individual reference management programs.
Of the 78 researchers who responded to our survey, 79.5% reported that they had used a reference management software package to prepare their review. Of these, 4.8% reported this usage in their published studies. EndNote, Reference Manager, and RefWorks were the programs of choice for more than 98% of authors who used this software. Comments with respect to ease-of-use issues focused on the integration of this software with other programs and computer interfaces, and the sharing of reference databases among researchers.
Despite underreporting of use, reference management software is frequently adopted by authors of systematic reviews. The transparency, reproducibility and quality of systematic reviews may be enhanced through increased reporting of reference management software usage.
PMCID: PMC3830982  PMID: 24237877
Meta-analysis; Systematic reviews; Data collection; Databases; Bibliographic; Software; Reference management software
11.  Validity of AHRQ patient safety indicators derived from ICD-10 hospital discharge abstract data (chart review study) 
BMJ Open  2013;3(10):e003716.
To assess if the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality  patient safety indictors (PSIs) could be used for case findings in the International Classification of Disease 10th revision (ICD-10) hospital discharge abstract data.
We identified and randomly selected 490 patients with a foreign body left during a procedure (PSI 5—foreign body), selected infections (IV site) due to medical care (PSI 7—infection), postoperative pulmonary embolism (PE) or deep vein thrombosis (DVT; PSI 12—PE/DVT), postoperative sepsis (PSI 13—sepsis)and accidental puncture or laceration (PSI 15—laceration) among patients discharged from three adult acute care hospitals in Calgary, Canada in 2007 and 2008. Their charts were reviewed for determining the presence of PSIs and used as the reference standard, positive predictive value (PPV) statistics were calculated to determine the proportion of positives in the administrative data representing ‘true positives’.
The PPV for PSI 5—foreign body was 62.5% (95% CI 35.4% to 84.8%), PSI 7—infection was 79.1% (67.4% to 88.1%), PSI 12—PE/DVT was 89.5% (66.9% to 98.7%), PSI 13—sepsis was 12.5% (1.6% to 38.4%) and PSI 15—laceration was 86.4% (75.0% to 94.0%) after excluding those who presented to the hospital with the condition.
Several PSIs had high PPV in the ICD administrative data and are thus powerful tools for true positive case finding. The tools could be used to identify potential cases from the large volume of admissions for verification through chart reviews. In contrast, their sensitivity has not been well characterised and users of PSIs should be cautious if using them for ‘quality of care reporting’ presenting the rate of PSIs because under-coded data would generate falsely low PSI rates.
PMCID: PMC3796280  PMID: 24114372
12.  Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders among Patients with Myocardial Infarction: Associations with Disparities in Care and Mortality 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e66551.
Because alcohol and drug use disorders (SUDs) can influence quality of care, we compared patients with and without SUDs on frequency of catheterization, revascularization, and in-hospital mortality after acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
This study employed hospital discharge data identifying all adult AMI admissions (ICD-9-CM code 410) between April 1996 and December 2001. Patients were classified as having an SUD if they had alcohol and/or drug (not nicotine) abuse or dependence using a validated ICD-9-CM coding definition. Catheterization and revascularization data were obtained by linkage with a clinically-detailed cardiac registry. Analyses (controlling for comorbidities and disease severity) compared patients with and without SUDs for post-MI catheterization, revascularization, and in-hospital mortality.
Of 7,876 AMI unique patient admissions, 2.6% had an SUD. In adjusted analyses mortality was significantly higher among those with an SUD (odds ratio (OR) 2.02; 95%CI: 1.10–3.69), while there was a trend toward lower catheterization rates among those with an SUD (OR 0.75; 95%CI: 0.55–1.01). Among the subset of AMI admissions who underwent catheterization, the adjusted hazard ratio for one-year revascularization was 0.85 (95%CI: 0.65–1.11) with an SUD compared to without.
Alcohol and drug use disorders are associated with significantly higher in-hospital mortality following AMI in adults of all ages, and may also be associated with decreased access to catheterization and revascularization. This higher mortality in the face of poorer access to procedures suggests that these individuals may be under-treated following AMI. Targeted efforts are required to explore the interplay of patient and provider factors that underlie this finding.
PMCID: PMC3770618  PMID: 24039695
13.  A Case of Histamine Fish Poisoning in a Young Atopic Woman 
Histamine fish poisoning, also known as scombroid poisoning, is a histamine toxicity syndrome that results from eating specific types of spoiled fish. Although typically a benign syndrome, characterized by self-limited flushing, headache, and gastrointestinal symptoms, we describe a case unique in its severity and as a precipitant of an asthma exacerbation.
A 25-year-old woman presented to the emergency department (ED) with one hour of tongue and face swelling, an erythematous pruritic rash, and dyspnea with wheezing after consuming a tuna sandwich. She developed abdominal pain, diarrhea and hypotension in the ED requiring admission to the hospital. A diagnosis of histamine fish poisoning was made and the patient was treated supportively and discharged within 24 hours, but was readmitted within 3 hours due to an asthma exacerbation. Her course was complicated by recurrent admissions for asthma exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC3378730  PMID: 22331402
histamine fish poisoning; scombroid; asthma
14.  Multidimensional evaluation of a radio frequency identification wi-fi location tracking system in an acute-care hospital setting 
Real-time locating systems (RTLS) have the potential to enhance healthcare systems through the live tracking of assets, patients and staff. This study evaluated a commercially available RTLS system deployed in a clinical setting, with three objectives: (1) assessment of the location accuracy of the technology in a clinical setting; (2) assessment of the value of asset tracking to staff; and (3) assessment of threshold monitoring applications developed for patient tracking and inventory control. Simulated daily activities were monitored by RTLS and compared with direct research team observations. Staff surveys and interviews concerning the system's effectiveness and accuracy were also conducted and analyzed. The study showed only modest location accuracy, and mixed reactions in staff interviews. These findings reveal that the technology needs to be refined further for better specific location accuracy before full-scale implementation can be recommended.
PMCID: PMC3384113  PMID: 22298566
Accuracy testing; asset tracking; data mining; happy456; machine learning; patient tracking; Patterson; real-time location; RFID; simulation; statistics; threshold monitoring
15.  A systematic review of tools for predicting severe adverse events following patient discharge from intensive care units 
Critical Care  2013;17(3):R102.
The discharge of patients from the intensive care unit (ICU) to a hospital ward is a common transition of care that is associated with error and adverse events. Risk stratification tools may help identify high-risk patients for targeted interventions, but it is unclear if proper tools have been developed.
We searched Ovid EMBASE, Ovid MEDLINE, CINAHL, PUBMED and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from the earliest available date through March 2013, plus reference lists and citations of all studies included in the systematic review. Cohort studies were selected that described the derivation, validation or clinical impact of tools for predicting medical emergency team activation, ICU readmission or mortality following patient discharge from the ICU. Data were extracted on the study design, setting, population, sample size, tool (components, measurement properties) and outcomes.
The literature search identified 9,926 citations, of which eight studies describing eight tools met the inclusion criteria. Reported outcomes included ICU readmission (n = 4 studies), hospital mortality (n = 3 studies) and both ICU readmission and hospital mortality (n = 1 studies). Seven of the tools were comprised of distinct measurable component variables, while one tool used subjective scoring of patient risk by intensive care physicians. The areas under receiver operator curves were reported for all studies and ranged from 0.66 to 0.92. A single study provided a direct comparative analysis between two tools. We did not find any studies evaluating the impact of risk prediction on processes and outcomes of care.
Eight risk stratification tools for predicting severe adverse events following patient discharge from ICU have been developed, but have undergone limited comparative evaluation. Although risk stratification tools may help clinician decision-making, further evaluation of the existing tools' effects on care is required prior to clinical implementation.
PMCID: PMC4056089  PMID: 23718698
Review; systematic; Critical care; Intensive care; Patient discharge; Decision support techniques; patient readmission; Mortality
16.  Does Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) Training Improve the Skills of Health Workers? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66030.
An estimated 6.9 million children die annually in low and middle-income countries because of treatable illneses including pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. To reduce morbidity and mortality, the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness strategy was developed, which included a component to strengthen the skills of health workers in identifying and managing these conditions. A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted to determine whether IMCI training actually improves performance.
Database searches of CIHAHL, CENTRAL, EMBASE, Global Health, Medline, Ovid Healthstar, and PubMed were performed from 1990 to February 2013, and supplemented with grey literature searches and reviews of bibliographies. Studies were included if they compared the performance of IMCI and non-IMCI health workers in illness classification, prescription of medications, vaccinations, and counseling on nutrition and admistration of oral therapies. Dersminion-Laird random effect models were used to summarize the effect estimates.
The systematic review and meta-analysis included 46 and 26 studies, respectively. Four cluster-randomized controlled trials, seven pre-post studies, and 15 cross-sectional studies were included. Findings were heterogeneous across performance domains with evidence of effect modification by health worker performance at baseline. Overall, IMCI-trained workers were more likely to correctly classify illnesses (RR = 1.93, 95% CI: 1.66–2.24). Studies of workers with lower baseline performance showed greater improvements in prescribing medications (RR = 3.08, 95% CI: 2.04–4.66), vaccinating children (RR = 3.45, 95% CI: 1.49–8.01), and counseling families on adequate nutrition (RR = 10.12, 95% CI: 6.03–16.99) and administering oral therapies (RR = 3.76, 95% CI: 2.30–6.13). Trends toward greater training benefits were observed in studies that were conducted in lower resource settings and reported greater supervision.
Findings suggest that IMCI training improves health worker performance. However, these estimates need to be interpreted cautiously given the observational nature of the studies and presence of heterogeneity.
PMCID: PMC3680429  PMID: 23776599
17.  Atherosclerosis Screening by Noninvasive Imaging for Cardiovascular Prevention: A Systematic Review 
Noninvasive imaging of atherosclerosis is being increasingly used in clinical practice, with some experts recommending to screen all healthy adults for atherosclerosis and some jurisdictions mandating insurance coverage for atherosclerosis screening. Data on the impact of such screening have not been systematically synthesized.
We aimed to assess whether atherosclerosis screening improves cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) and clinical outcomes.
This study is a systematic review.
We searched MEDLINE and the Cochrane Clinical Trial Register without language restrictions.
We included studies examining the impact of atherosclerosis screening with noninvasive imaging (e.g., carotid ultrasound, coronary calcification) on CVRF, cardiovascular events, or mortality in adults without cardiovascular disease.
We identified four randomized controlled trials (RCT, n = 709) and eight non-randomized studies comparing participants with evidence of atherosclerosis on screening to those without (n = 2,994). In RCTs, atherosclerosis screening did not improve CVRF, but smoking cessation rates increased (18% vs. 6%, p = 0.03) in one RCT. Non-randomized studies found improvements in several intermediate outcomes, such as increased motivation to change lifestyle and increased perception of cardiovascular risk. However, such data were conflicting and limited by the lack of a randomized control group. No studies examined the impact of screening on cardiovascular events or mortality. Heterogeneity in screening methods and studied outcomes did not permit pooling of results.
Available evidence about atherosclerosis screening is limited, with mixed results on CVRF control, increased smoking cessation in one RCT, and no data on cardiovascular events. Such screening should be validated by large clinical trials before widespread use.
PMCID: PMC3270245  PMID: 21882076
atherosclerosis; diagnostic techniques; cardiovascular; coronary disease; health behavior; smoking cessation; clinical trial; systematic review
18.  The Seamless Transfer-of-Care Protocol: a randomized controlled trial assessing the efficacy of an electronic transfer-of-care communication tool 
The transition between acute care and community care represents a vulnerable period in health care delivery. The vulnerability of this period has been attributed to changes to patients’ medication regimens during hospitalization, failure to reconcile discrepancies between admission and discharge and the burdening of patients/families to take over care responsibilities at discharge and to relay important information to the primary care physician. Electronic communication platforms can provide an immediate link between acute care and community care physicians (and other community providers), designed to ensure consistent information transfer. This study examines whether a transfer-of-care (TOC) communication tool is efficacious and cost-effective for reducing hospital readmission, adverse events and adverse drug events as well as reducing death.
A randomized controlled trial conducted on the Medical Teaching Unit of a Canadian tertiary care centre will evaluate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a TOC communication tool. Medical in-patients admitted to the unit will be considered for this study. Data will be collected upon admission, and a total of 1400 patients will be randomized. The control group’s acute care stay will be summarized using a traditional dictated summary, while the intervention group will have a summary generated using the TOC communication tool. The primary outcome will be a composite, at 3 months, of death or readmission to any Alberta acute-care hospital. Secondary outcomes will be the occurrence of post-discharge adverse events and adverse drug events at 1 month post discharge. Patients with adverse outcomes will have their cases reviewed by two Royal College certified internists or College-certified family physicians, blinded to patients’ group assignments, to determine the type, severity, preventability and ameliorability of all detected adverse outcomes. An accompanying economic evaluation will assess the cost per life saved, cost per readmission avoided and cost per QALY gained with the TOC communication tool compared to traditional dictation summaries.
This paper outlines the study protocol for a randomized controlled trial evaluating an electronic transfer-of-care communication tool, with sufficient statistical power to assess the impact of the tool on the significant outcomes of post-discharge death or readmission. The study findings will inform health systems around the world on the potential benefits of such tools, and the value for money associated with their widespread implementation.
Trial registration NCT01402609.
PMCID: PMC3529105  PMID: 23170814
Medical informatics, Care transitions, Electronic health records; Randomized controlled trials; Hospital discharge
19.  A validation of ground ambulance pre-hospital times modeled using geographic information systems 
Evaluating geographic access to health services often requires determining the patient travel time to a specified service. For urgent care, many research studies have modeled patient pre-hospital time by ground emergency medical services (EMS) using geographic information systems (GIS). The purpose of this study was to determine if the modeling assumptions proposed through prior United States (US) studies are valid in a non-US context, and to use the resulting information to provide revised recommendations for modeling travel time using GIS in the absence of actual EMS trip data.
The study sample contained all emergency adult patient trips within the Calgary area for 2006. Each record included four components of pre-hospital time (activation, response, on-scene and transport interval). The actual activation and on-scene intervals were compared with those used in published models. The transport interval was calculated within GIS using the Network Analyst extension of Esri ArcGIS 10.0 and the response interval was derived using previously established methods. These GIS derived transport and response intervals were compared with the actual times using descriptive methods. We used the information acquired through the analysis of the EMS trip data to create an updated model that could be used to estimate travel time in the absence of actual EMS trip records.
There were 29,765 complete EMS records for scene locations inside the city and 529 outside. The actual median on-scene intervals were longer than the average previously reported by 7–8 minutes. Actual EMS pre-hospital times across our study area were significantly higher than the estimated times modeled using GIS and the original travel time assumptions. Our updated model, although still underestimating the total pre-hospital time, more accurately represents the true pre-hospital time in our study area.
The widespread use of generalized EMS pre-hospital time assumptions based on US data may not be appropriate in a non-US context. The preference for researchers should be to use actual EMS trip records from the proposed research study area. In the absence of EMS trip data researchers should determine which modeling assumptions more accurately reflect the EMS protocols across their study area.
PMCID: PMC3527264  PMID: 23033894
Pre-hospital time; Geographic Information Systems; Validation; Emergency medical services
20.  Meta-analytic comparison of randomized and nonrandomized studies of breast cancer surgery 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2012;55(3):155-162.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are thought to provide the most accurate estimation of “true” treatment effect. The relative quality of effect estimates derived from nonrandomized studies (nRCTs) remains unclear, particularly in surgery, where the obstacles to performing high-quality RCTs are compounded. We performed a meta-analysis of effect estimates of RCTs comparing surgical procedures for breast cancer relative to those of corresponding nRCTs.
English-language RCTs of breast cancer treatment in human patients published from 2003 to 2008 were identified in MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane databases. We identified nRCTs using the National Library of Medicine’s “related articles” function and reference lists. Two reviewers conducted all steps of study selection. We included studies comparing 2 surgical arms for the treatment of breast cancer. Information on treatment efficacy estimates, expressed as relative risk (RR) for outcomes of interest in both the RCTs and nRCTs was extracted.
We identified 12 RCTs representing 10 topic/outcome combinations with comparable nRCTs. On visual inspection, 4 of 10 outcomes showed substantial differences in summary RR. The pooled RR estimates for RCTs versus nRCTs differed more than 2-fold in 2 of 10 outcomes and failed to demonstrate consistency of statistical differences in 3 of 10 cases. A statistically significant difference, as assessed by the z score, was not detected for any of the outcomes.
Randomized controlled trials comparing surgical procedures for breast cancer may demonstrate clinically relevant differences in effect estimates in 20%–40% of cases relative to those generated by nRCTs, depending on which metric is used.
PMCID: PMC3364302  PMID: 22449722
21.  The relationship between urban environment and the inflammatory bowel diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Gastroenterology  2012;12:51.
The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review with meta-analysis of studies assessing the association between living in an urban environment and the development of the Crohn’s disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC).
A systematic literature search of MEDLINE (1950-Oct. 2009) and EMBASE (1980-Oct. 2009) was conducted to identify studies investigating the relationship between urban environment and IBD. Cohort and case–control studies were analyzed using incidence rate ratio (IRR) or odds ratio (OR) with 95 % confidence intervals (CIs), respectively. Stratified and sensitivity analyses were performed to explore heterogeneity between studies and assess effects of study quality.
The search strategy retrieved 6940 unique citations and 40 studies were selected for inclusion. Of these, 25 investigated the relationship between urban environment and UC and 30 investigated this relationship with CD. Included in our analysis were 7 case–control UC studies, 9 case–control CD studies, 18 cohort UC studies and 21 cohort CD studies. Based on a random effects model, the pooled IRRs for urban compared to rural environment for UC and CD studies were 1.17 (1.03, 1.32) and 1.42 (1.26, 1.60), respectively. These associations persisted across multiple stratified and sensitivity analyses exploring clinical and study quality factors. Heterogeneity was observed in the cohort studies for both UC and CD, whereas statistically significant heterogeneity was not observed for the case–control studies.
A positive association between urban environment and both CD and UC was found. Heterogeneity may be explained by differences in study design and quality factors.
PMCID: PMC3517531  PMID: 22624994
Inflammatory bowel disease; Urban population; Risk factors
22.  Appropriateness of the use of intravenous immune globulin before and after the introduction of a utilization control program 
Open Medicine  2012;6(1):e28-e34.
Intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) is an expensive and sometimes scarce blood product that carries some risk. It may often be used inappropriately. We evaluated the appropriateness of IVIG use before and after the introduction of an utilization control program to reduce inappropriate use.
We used the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method to measure the appropriateness of IVIG use in the province of British Columbia (BC) in 2001 and 2003, before and after the introduction of a utilization control program designed to reduce inappropriate use. For comparison, we measured the appropriateness of use during the same periods in the province of Alberta, which had no control program.
Of 2256 instances of IVIG use, 54.1% were deemed to be appropriate, 17.4% were of uncertain benefit, and 28.5% were deemed inappropriate. The frequency of inappropriate use in BC after the introduction of the utilization control program did not differ significantly from the frequency before the program or the frequency in Alberta.
Almost half of IVIG use in BC and Alberta was judged to be inappropriate or of uncertain benefit, and the frequency of inappropriate use did not decrease after implementation of a utilization control program in BC. More effective utilization controls are necessary to prevent wasted resources and unnecessary risk to patients.
PMCID: PMC3329117  PMID: 22567080
23.  Economic evaluation of increasing population rates of cardiac catheterization 
Increasing population rates of cardiac catheterization can lead to the detection of more people with high risk coronary disease and opportunity for subsequent revascularization. However, such a strategy should only be undertaken if it is cost-effective.
Based on data from a cohort of patients undergoing cardiac catheterization, and efficacy data from clinical trials, we used a Markov model that considered 1) the yield of high-risk cases as the catheterization rate increases, 2) the long-term survival, quality of life and costs for patients with high risk disease, and 3) the impact of revascularization on survival, quality of life and costs. The cost per quality-adjusted life year was calculated overall, and by indication, age, and sex subgroups.
Increasing the catheterization rate was associated with a cost per QALY of CAN$26,470. The cost per QALY was most attractive in females with Acute Coronary Syndromes (ACS) ($20,320 per QALY gained), and for ACS patients over 75 years of age ($16,538 per QALY gained). However, there is significant model uncertainty associated with the efficacy of revascularization.
A strategy of increasing cardiac catheterization rates among eligible patients is associated with a cost per QALY similar to that of other funded interventions. However, there is significant model uncertainty. A decision to increase population rates of catheterization requires consideration of the accompanying opportunity costs, and careful thought towards the most appropriate strategy.
PMCID: PMC3250945  PMID: 22115423
24.  A multi-region assessment of population rates of cardiac catheterization and yield of high-risk coronary artery disease 
There is variation in cardiac catheterization utilization across jurisdictions. Previous work from Alberta, Canada, showed no evidence of a plateau in the yield of high-risk disease at cardiac catheterization rates as high as 600 per 100,000 population suggesting that the optimal rate is higher. This work aims 1) To determine if a previously demonstrated linear relationship between the yield of high-risk coronary disease and cardiac catheterization rates persists with contemporary data and 2) to explore whether the linear relationship exists in other jurisdictions.
Detailed clinical information on all patients undergoing cardiac catheterization in 3 Canadian provinces was available through the Alberta Provincial Project for Outcomes Assessment in Coronary Heart (APPROACH) disease and partner initiatives in British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Population rates of catheterization and high-risk coronary disease detection for each health region in these three provinces, and age-adjusted rates produced using direct standardization. A mixed effects regression analysis was performed to assess the relationship between catheterization rate and high-risk coronary disease detection.
In the contemporary Alberta data, we found a linear relationship between the population catheterization rate and the high-risk yield. Although the yield was slightly less in time period 2 (2002-2006) than in time period 1(1995-2001), there was no statistical evidence of a plateau. The linear relationship between catheterization rate and high-risk yield was similarly demonstrated in British Columbia and Nova Scotia and appears to extend, without a plateau in yield, to rates over 800 procedures per 100,000 population.
Our study demonstrates a consistent finding, over time and across jurisdictions, of linearly increasing detection of high-risk CAD as population rates of cardiac catheterization increase. This internationally-relevant finding can inform country-level planning of invasive cardiac care services.
PMCID: PMC3252261  PMID: 22115358
25.  Improved accuracy of co-morbidity coding over time after the introduction of ICD-10 administrative data 
Co-morbidity information derived from administrative data needs to be validated to allow its regular use. We assessed evolution in the accuracy of coding for Charlson and Elixhauser co-morbidities at three time points over a 5-year period, following the introduction of the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10), coding of hospital discharges.
Cross-sectional time trend evaluation study of coding accuracy using hospital chart data of 3'499 randomly selected patients who were discharged in 1999, 2001 and 2003, from two teaching and one non-teaching hospital in Switzerland. We measured sensitivity, positive predictive and Kappa values for agreement between administrative data coded with ICD-10 and chart data as the 'reference standard' for recording 36 co-morbidities.
For the 17 the Charlson co-morbidities, the sensitivity - median (min-max) - was 36.5% (17.4-64.1) in 1999, 42.5% (22.2-64.6) in 2001 and 42.8% (8.4-75.6) in 2003. For the 29 Elixhauser co-morbidities, the sensitivity was 34.2% (1.9-64.1) in 1999, 38.6% (10.5-66.5) in 2001 and 41.6% (5.1-76.5) in 2003. Between 1999 and 2003, sensitivity estimates increased for 30 co-morbidities and decreased for 6 co-morbidities. The increase in sensitivities was statistically significant for six conditions and the decrease significant for one. Kappa values were increased for 29 co-morbidities and decreased for seven.
Accuracy of administrative data in recording clinical conditions improved slightly between 1999 and 2003. These findings are of relevance to all jurisdictions introducing new coding systems, because they demonstrate a phenomenon of improved administrative data accuracy that may relate to a coding 'learning curve' with the new coding system.
PMCID: PMC3170597  PMID: 21849089
ICD-10; Agreement; Administrative Data; Co-morbidity

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