PMCC PMCC

Search tips
Search criteria

Advanced
Results 1-25 (38)
 

Clipboard (0)
None

Select a Filter Below

Journals
more »
Year of Publication
more »
1.  Ontario's Emergency Department Process Improvement Program: The Experience of Implementation 
Academic Emergency Medicine  2015;22(6):720-729.
Abstract
Objectives
In recent years, Lean manufacturing principles have been applied to health care quality improvement efforts to improve wait times. In Ontario, an emergency department (ED) process improvement program based on Lean principles was introduced by the Ministry of Health and Long‐Term Care as part of a strategy to reduce ED length of stay (LOS) and to improve patient flow. This article aims to describe the hospital‐based teams’ experiences during the ED process improvement program implementation and the teams’ perceptions of the key factors that influenced the program's success or failure.
Methods
A qualitative evaluation was conducted based on semistructured interviews with hospital implementation team members, such as team leads, medical leads, and executive sponsors, at 10 purposively selected hospitals in Ontario, Canada. Sites were selected based, in part, on their changes in median ED LOS following the implementation period. A thematic framework approach as used for interviews, and a standard thematic coding framework was developed.
Results
Twenty‐four interviews were coded and analyzed. The results are organized according to participants’ experience and are grouped into four themes that were identified as significantly affecting the implementation experience: local contextual factors, relationship between improvement team and support players, staff engagement, and success and sustainability. The results demonstrate the importance of the context of implementation, establishing strong relationships and communication strategies, and preparing for implementation and sustainability prior to the start of the project.
Conclusions
Several key factors were identified as important to the success of the program, such as preparing for implementation, ensuring strong executive support, creation of implementation teams based on the tasks and outcomes of the initiative, and using multiple communication strategies throughout the implementation process. Explicit incorporation of these factors into the development and implementation of future similar interventions in health care settings could be useful.
doi:10.1111/acem.12688
PMCID: PMC5032978  PMID: 25996451
2.  The impact of a knowledge translation intervention employing educational outreach and a point-of-care reminder tool vs standard lay health worker training on tuberculosis treatment completion rates: study protocol for a cluster randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2016;17(1):439.
Background
Despite availability of effective treatment, tuberculosis (TB) remains an important cause of morbidity and mortality globally, with low- and middle-income countries most affected. In many such settings, including Malawi, the high burden of disease and severe shortage of skilled healthcare workers has led to task-shifting of outpatient TB care to lay health workers (LHWs). LHWs improve access to healthcare and some outcomes, including TB completion rates, but lack of training and supervision limit their impact. The goals of this study are to improve TB care provided by LHWs in Malawi by refining, implementing, and evaluating a knowledge translation strategy designed to address a recognized gap in LHWs’ TB and job-specific knowledge and, through this, to improve patient outcomes.
Methods/design
We are employing a mixed-methods design that includes a pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial and a process evaluation using qualitative methods. Trial participants will include all health centers providing TB care in four districts in the South East Zone of Malawi. The intervention employs educational outreach, a point-of-care reminder tool, and a peer support network. The primary outcome is proportion of treatment successes, defined as the total of TB patients cured or completing treatment, with outcomes taken from Ministry of Health treatment records. With an alpha of 0.05, power of 0.80, a baseline treatment success of 0.80, intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.1 based on our pilot study, and an estimated 100 clusters (health centers providing TB care), a minimum of 6 patients per cluster is required to detect a clinically significant 0.10 increase in the proportion of treatment successes. Our process evaluation will include interviews with LHWs and patients, and a document analysis of LHW training logs, quarterly peer trainer meetings, and mentorship meeting notes. An estimated 10–15 LHWs and 10–15 patients will be required to reach saturation in each of 2 planned interview periods, for a total of 40–60 interview participants.
Discussion
This study will directly inform the efforts of knowledge users within TB care and, through extension of the approach, other areas of care provided by LHWs in Malawi and other low- and middle-income countries.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02533089. Registered 20 August 2015. Protocol Date/Version 29 May 2016/Version 2.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13063-016-1563-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13063-016-1563-2
PMCID: PMC5015212  PMID: 27604571
Lay health workers; Community health workers; Educational outreach; Reminders; Peer support network; TB; Tuberculosis; Cluster randomized trial
3.  Care Setting Intensity and Outcomes After Emergency Department Presentation Among Patients With Acute Heart Failure 
Background
Patients with heart failure (HF) presenting to the emergency department (ED) can be admitted to care settings of different intensity, where the intensive care unit (ICU) is the highest intensity, ward admission is intermediate intensity, and those discharged home are of lowest intensity. Despite the costs associated with higher‐intensity care, little is known about disposition decisions and outcomes of HF patients treated in different care settings.
Methods and Results
We identified predictors of ICU or ward admission and determined whether survival differs in patients admitted to higher‐intensity versus lower‐intensity care settings (ie, ICU vs ward, or ward vs ED‐discharged). Among 9054 patients (median, 78 years; 51% men) presenting to an ED in Ontario, Canada, 1163 were ICU‐admitted, 5240 ward‐admitted, and 2651 were ED‐discharged. Predictors of ICU (vs ward) admission included: use of noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 2.01; 95% CI, 1.36–2.98), higher respiratory rate (OR, 1.10 per 5 breaths/min; 95% CI, 1.05–1.15), and lower oxygen saturation (OR, 0.90 per 5%; 95% CI, 0.86–0.94; all P<0.001). Predictors of ward‐admitted versus ED‐discharged were similar. Propensity‐matched analysis comparing lower‐risk ICU to ward‐admitted patients demonstrated a nonsignificant trend at 100 days (relative risk [RR], 0.69; 95% CI, 0.43–1.10; P=0.148). At 1 year, however, survival was higher among those initially admitted to ICU (RR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.49–0.94; P=0.022). There was no survival difference among low‐risk ward‐admitted versus ED‐discharged patients.
Conclusions
Respiratory factors were associated with admission to higher‐intensity settings. There was no difference in early survival between some lower‐risk patients admitted to higher‐intensity units compared to those treated in lower‐intensity settings.
doi:10.1161/JAHA.116.003232
PMCID: PMC5015368  PMID: 27451461
acute heart failure; critical care; emergency department; heart failure; hospital disposition; intensive care; mortality; processes of care; quality of care; risk prediction; Heart Failure; Health Services; Quality and Outcomes
4.  Lay Health Workers experience of a tailored knowledge translation intervention to improve job skills and knowledge: a qualitative study in Zomba district Malawi 
BMC Medical Education  2016;16:54.
Background
Like many sub-Saharan African countries, Malawi is facing a critical shortage of skilled healthcare workers. In response to this crisis, a formal cadre of lay health workers (LHW) has been established and now carries out several basic health care services, including outpatient TB care and adherence support. While ongoing training and supervision are recognized as essential to the effectiveness of LHW programs, information is lacking as to how these needs are best addressed. The objective of this qualitative study was to explore LHWs responses to a tailored knowledge translation intervention they received, designed to address a previously identified training and knowledge gap.
Methods
Forty-five interviews were conducted with 36 healthcare workers. Fourteen to sixteen interviews were done at each of 3 evenly spaced time blocks over a one year period, with 6 individuals interviewed more than once to assess for change both within and across individuals overtime.
Results
Reported benefits of the intervention included: increased TB, HIV, and job-specific knowledge; improved clinical skills; and increased confidence and satisfaction with their work. Suggestions for improvement were less consistent across participants, but included: increasing the duration of the training, changing to an off-site venue, providing stipends or refreshments as incentives, and adding HIV and drug dosing content.
Conclusions
Despite the significant departure of the study intervention from the traditional approach to training employed in Malawi, the intervention was well received and highly valued by LHW participants. Given the relative low-cost and flexibility of the methods employed, this appears a promising approach to addressing the training needs of LHW programs, particularly in Low- and Middle-income countries where resources are most constrained.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12909-016-0580-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12909-016-0580-x
PMCID: PMC4748491  PMID: 26861834
Lay health workers; Community health workers; Training; Knowledge translation; Educational outreach; Reminders
5.  Preoperative testing before low-risk surgical procedures 
Background:
There is concern about increasing utilization of low-value health care services, including preoperative testing for low-risk surgical procedures. We investigated temporal trends, explanatory factors, and institutional and regional variation in the utilization of testing before low-risk procedures.
Methods:
For this retrospective cohort study, we accessed linked population-based administrative databases from Ontario, Canada. A cohort of 1 546 223 patients 18 years or older underwent a total of 2 224 070 low-risk procedures, including endoscopy and ophthalmologic surgery, from Apr. 1, 2008, to Mar. 31, 2013, at 137 institutions in 14 health regions. We used hierarchical logistic regression models to assess patient- and institution-level factors associated with electrocardiography (ECG), transthoracic echocardiography, cardiac stress test or chest radiography within 60 days before the procedure.
Results:
Endoscopy, ophthalmologic surgery and other low-risk procedures accounted for 40.1%, 34.2% and 25.7% of procedures, respectively. ECG and chest radiography were conducted before 31.0% (95% confidence interval [CI] 30.9%–31.1%) and 10.8% (95% CI 10.8%–10.8%) of procedures, respectively, whereas the rates of preoperative echocardiography and stress testing were 2.9% (95% CI 2.9%–2.9%) and 2.1% (95% CI 2.1%–2.1%), respectively. Significant variation was present across institutions, with the frequency of preoperative ECG ranging from 3.4% to 88.8%. Receipt of preoperative ECG and radiography were associated with older age (among patients 66–75 years of age, for ECG, adjusted odds ratio [OR] 18.3, 95% CI 17.6–19.0; for radiography, adjusted OR 2.9, 95% CI 2.8–3.0), preoperative anesthesia consultation (for ECG, adjusted OR 8.7, 95% CI 8.5–8.8; for radiography, adjusted OR 2.2, 95% CI 2.1–2.2) and preoperative medical consultation (for ECG, adjusted OR 6.8, 95% CI 6.7–6.9; for radiography, adjusted OR 3.6, 95% CI 3.5–3.6). The median ORs for receipt of preoperative ECG and radiography were 2.3 and 1.6, respectively.
Interpretation:
Despite guideline recommendations to limit testing before low-risk surgical procedures, preoperative ECG and chest radiography were performed frequently. Significant variation across institutions remained after adjustment for patient- and institution-level factors.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.150174
PMCID: PMC4527930  PMID: 26032314
6.  Incident atrial fibrillation in the emergency department in Ontario: a population-based retrospective cohort study of follow-up care 
CMAJ Open  2015;3(2):E182-E191.
Background
Continuity of care has been shown to be poor following in-hospital discharge, and there are substantially fewer resources to facilitate follow-up care arrangements after discharge from an emergency department. Our objective was to assess the frequency, timeliness and predictors for obtaining follow-up care following discharge from an emergency department in Ontario with a new diagnosis of atrial fibrillation.
Methods
We conducted a retrospective cohort study involving all patients discharged from the 157 nonpediatric emergency departments in Ontario, who received a new diagnosis of atrial fibrillation between 2007 and 2012. We determined the frequency of follow-up care with a family physician, cardiologist or internist within 7 (timely) and 30 days of the emergency department visit, and assessed the association of emergency and family physician characteristics, including primary care model type, with obtaining timely follow-up care.
Results
Among 14 907 patients discharged from Ontario emergency departments with a new, primary diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, half (n = 7473) had timely follow-up care. At 30 days, 2678 patients (18.0%) still had not obtained follow-up care. Among emergency and family physician factors, lack of a family physician had the largest independent association with acquiring timely follow-up care (odds ratio [OR] 0.58, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.50–0.69). Using patients with a family physician belonging to a primarily fee-for-service remuneration model as the comparison group, patients with a family physician belonging to a capitation-based Family Health Network, as part of a Family Health Team, were less likely to receive timely follow-up care (OR 0.73, 95% CI 0.62–0.86), as were those whose family physician belonged to the same model type that was not part of a Family Health Team (OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.60–0.97).
Interpretation
Only half of the patients who were discharged from an emergency department in Ontario with a new diagnosis of atrial fibrillation were seen within 7 days of discharge. The most influential factor was having a family physician; patients with a family physician being remunerated via primarily fee-for-service methods were more likely to be seen within 7 days than those who were reimbursed through a primarily capitation model. Systems-wide solutions are needed to ensure timely follow-up care is available for all patients with chronic diseases.
doi:10.9778/cmajo.20140099
PMCID: PMC4565173  PMID: 26389096
7.  A knowledge translation intervention to improve tuberculosis care and outcomes in Malawi: a pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial 
Background
Lay health workers (LHWs) play a pivotal role in addressing the high TB burden in Malawi. LHWs report lack of training to be a key barrier to their role as TB care providers. Given the cost of traditional off-site training, an alternative approach is needed. Our objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of a KT intervention tailored to LHWs needs.
Methods
The study design is a pragmatic cluster randomized trial. The study was embedded within a larger trial, PALMPLUS, and compared three arms which included 28 health centers in Zomba district, Malawi. The control arm included 14 health centers randomized as controls in the larger trial and maintained as control sites. Seven of 14 PALMPLUS intervention sites were randomized to the LHW intervention (PALM/LHW intervention arm), and the remaining 7 PALMPLUS sites maintained as a PALM only arm. PALMPLUS intervention sites received an educational outreach program targeting mid-level health workers. LHW intervention sites received both the PALMPLUS intervention and the LHW intervention employing on-site peer-led educational outreach and a point-of-care tool tailored to LHWs identified needs. Control sites received no intervention. The main outcome measure is the proportion of treatment successes.
Results
Among the 28 sites, there were 178 incident TB cases with 46/80 (0.58) successes in the control group, 44/68 (0.65) successes in the PALMPLUS group, and 21/30 (0.70) successes in the PALM/LHW intervention group. There was no significant effect of the intervention on treatment success in the univariate analysis adjusted for cluster randomization (p = 0.578) or multivariate analysis controlling for covariates with significant model effects (p = 0.760). The overall test of the intervention-arm by TB-type interaction approached but did not achieve significance (p = 0.056), with the interaction significant only in the control arm [RR of treatment success for pulmonary TB relative to non-pulmonary TB, 1.18, 95% CI 1.05–1.31].
Conclusions
We found no significant treatment effect of our intervention. Given the identified trend for effectiveness and urgent need for low-cost approaches to LHW training, further evaluation of tailored KT strategies as a means of LHW training in Malawi and other LMICs is warranted.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01356095.
doi:10.1186/s13012-015-0228-y
PMCID: PMC4437452  PMID: 25890186
Lay health workers; Community health workers; Educational outreach; Reminders; TB; Cluster randomized trial
8.  Factors associated with physician follow-up among patients with chest pain discharged from the emergency department 
Background:
Many patients with chest pain do not receive follow-up from a physician after discharge from the emergency department despite significant survival benefit associated with follow-up care. Our objective was to evaluate factors associated with physician follow-up to understand this gap in practice.
Methods:
We conducted an observational study involving patients at high risk who were assessed for chest pain and discharged from an emergency department in Ontario between April 2004 and March 2010. We used multivariable logistic regression to determine the association of clinical and nonclinical characteristics with physician follow-up.
Results:
We identified 56 767 patients, of whom 25.1% did not receive any follow-up by a physician, 69.0% were seen by their primary care physician, and 17.3% were seen by a cardiologist within 30 days. Patients who had medical comorbidities and cardiac conditions such as myocardial infarction or heart failure were less likely to have follow-up. In contrast, a previous visit to a primary care physician was associated with the highest odds of having physician follow-up (odds ratio [OR] 6.44, 95% confidence interval [CI] 5.91–7.01). Similarly, a previous visit to a cardiologist was strongly associated with follow-up by a cardiologist (OR 3.01, 95% CI 2.85–3.17). Patients evaluated in emergency departments with the highest tertile of chest pain volume were more likely to receive follow-up from any physician (OR 1.52, 95% CI 1.31–1.77) and from a cardiologist (OR 2.04, 95% CI 1.61–2.57).
Interpretation:
Nonclinical factors are strongly associated with physician follow-up for patients with chest pain after discharge from the emergency department. However, patients with comorbidities and at higher risk for future adverse events are less likely to receive follow-up care.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.141294
PMCID: PMC4361126  PMID: 25712950
10.  Outcomes in patients with heart failure treated in hospitals with varying admission rates: population-based cohort study 
BMJ Quality & Safety  2014;23(12):981-988.
Study objectives
Hospital admission rates for patients with heart failure (HF) presenting for emergency department (ED) care vary, and the implications of direct discharge home from the ED are unknown. We examined whether patients treated in hospitals with low admission rates exhibit higher rates of repeat ED visits, hospital readmissions and death.
Methods
We divided EDs into low-, medium- and high-admission-rate tertiles by their standardised HF admission rate in Ontario, Canada. Among adults (≥18 years) with HF discharged from an ED between April 2004 and March 2010, we evaluated the primary outcomes of repeat ED visits or hospitalisations for HF, and secondary outcomes, which included death, within 30 days stratified by HF admission-rate tertile.
Results
89 878 patients with HF presented to low- (n=29 929), medium- (n=30 900) or high- (n=29 049) admission-rate institutions, with hospitalisation rates of <67%, 67–75% and >75%, respectively. Among 28 175 ED-discharged patients, the multivariable-adjusted HR for repeat ED visit or hospitalisation for HF at low-admission-rate institutions was 1.18 (95% CI 1.07 to 1.29, p<0.001) compared with high-admission institutions. Similarly, the HR for repeat ED visits for HF was 1.28 (95% CI 1.14 to 1.44, p<0.001) at low-admission hospitals. Compared with discharged patients in the high-admission-rate tertile, adjusted HR for 30-day mortality was 1.19 (95% CI 0.95 to 1.47) at low-admission-rate hospitals. The HRs for all of the above outcomes were not significantly increased at medium-admission-rate hospitals.
Discussion
Patients seeking care at institutions with lower rates of HF admission showed higher rates of repeat ED visits or hospitalisations after previous ED discharge.
doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2014-002816
PMCID: PMC4255669  PMID: 25078104
Health Services Research; Emergency Department; Quality Improvement
11.  Supporting middle-cadre health care workers in Malawi: lessons learned during implementation of the PALM PLUS package 
BMC Health Services Research  2014;14(Suppl 1):S8.
Background
The government of Malawi is committed to the broad rollout of antiretroviral treatment in Malawi in the public health sector; however one of the primary challenges has been the shortage of trained health care workers. The Practical Approach to Lung Health Plus HIV/AIDS in Malawi (PALM PLUS) package is an innovative guideline and training intervention that supports primary care middle-cadre health care workers to provide front-line integrated primary care. The purpose of this paper is to describe the lessons learned in implementing the PALM PLUS package.
Methods
A clinical tool, based on algorithm- and symptom-based guidelines was adapted to the Malawian context. An accompanying training program based on educational outreach principles was developed and a cascade training approach was used for implementation of the PALM PLUS package in 30 health centres, targeting clinical officers, medical assistants, and nurses. Lessons learned were identified during program implementation through engagement with collaborating partners and program participants and review of program evaluation findings.
Results
Key lessons learned for successful program implementation of the PALM PLUS package include the importance of building networks for peer-based support, ensuring adequate training capacity, making linkages with continuing professional development accreditation and providing modest in-service training budgets. The main limiting factors to implementation were turnover of staff and desire for financial training allowances.
Conclusions
The PALM PLUS approach is a potential model for supporting mid-level health care workers to provide front-line integrated primary care in low and middle income countries, and may be useful for future task-shifting initiatives.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-S1-S8
PMCID: PMC4108880  PMID: 25080192
training; educational outreach; task-shifting; continuing professional development; antiretroviral treatment; integrated primary care; nurses; clinical officers; medical assistants; health surveillance assistants; guideline; train-the-trainer; south-south collaboration; formation; sensibilisation; délégation de tâches; formation continue; soins primaires intégrés; personnel infirmier; personnel clinique; auxiliaires médicaux; adjoints à la surveillance sanitaire; lignes directrices; formation des formateurs; collaboration Sud-Sud
12.  Wait times in the emergency department for patients with mental illness 
Background:
It has been suggested that patients with mental illness wait longer for care than other patients in the emergency department. We determined wait times for patients with and without mental health diagnoses during crowded and noncrowded periods in the emergency department.
Methods:
We conducted a population-based retrospective cohort analysis of adults seen in 155 emergency departments in Ontario between April 2007 and March 2009. We compared wait times and triage scores for patients with mental illness to those for all other patients who presented to the emergency department during the study period.
Results:
The patients with mental illness (n = 51 381) received higher priority triage scores than other patients, regardless of crowding. The time to assessment by a physician was longer overall for patients with mental illness than for other patients (median 82, interquartile range [IQR] 41–147 min v. median 75 [IQR 36–140] min; p < 0.001). The median time from the decision to admit the patient to hospital to ward transfer was markedly shorter for patients with mental illness than for other patients (median 74 [IQR 15–215] min v. median 152 [IQR 45–605] min; p < 0.001). After adjustment for other variables, patients with mental illness waited 10 minutes longer to see a physician compared with other patients during noncrowded periods (95% confidence interval [CI] 8 to 11), but they waited significantly less time than other patients as crowding increased (mild crowding: −14 [95% CI −12 to −15] min; moderate crowding: −38 [95% CI −35 to −42] min; severe crowding: −48 [95% CI −39 to −56] min; p < 0.001).
Interpretation:
Patients with mental illness were triaged appropriately in Ontario’s emergency departments. These patients waited less time than other patients to see a physician under crowded conditions and only slightly longer under noncrowded conditions.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.111043
PMCID: PMC3519154  PMID: 23148052
13.  Effect of widespread restrictions on the use of hospital services during an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome 
Background
Restrictions on the nonurgent use of hospital services were imposed in March 2003 to control an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Toronto, Ont. We describe the impact of these restrictions on health care utilization and suggest lessons for future epidemics.
Methods
We performed a retrospective population-based study of the Greater Toronto Area (hereafter referred to as Toronto) and unaffected comparison regions (Ottawa and London, Ont.) before, during and after the SARS outbreak (April 2001–March 2004). We determined the adjusted rates of hospital admissions, emergency department and outpatient visits, diagnostic testing and drug prescribing.
Results
During the early and late SARS restriction periods, the rate of overall and medical admissions decreased by 10%–12% in Toronto; there was no change in the comparison regions. The rate of elective surgery in Toronto fell by 22% and 15% during the early and late restriction periods respectively and by 8% in the comparison regions. The admission rates for urgent surgery remained unchanged in all regions; those for some acute serious medical conditions decreased by 15%–21%. The rates of elective cardiac procedures declined by up to 66% in Toronto and by 71% in the comparison regions; the rates of urgent and semi-urgent procedures declined little or increased. High-acuity visits to emergency departments fell by 37% in Toronto, and inter-hospital patient transfers fell by 44% in the circum-Toronto area. Drug prescribing and primary care visits were unchanged in all regions.
Interpretation
The restrictions achieved modest reductions in overall hospital admissions and substantial reductions in the use of elective services. Brief reductions occurred in admissions for some acute serious conditions, high-acuity visits to emergency departments and inter-hospital patient transfers suggesting that access to care for some potentially seriously ill patients was affected.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.061174
PMCID: PMC1891122  PMID: 17576979
14.  The Challenge of Heart Failure Discharge from the Emergency Department 
Current Heart Failure Reports  2012;9(3):252-259.
Acute decompensated heart failure is a common reason for presentation to the emergency department and is associated with high rates of admission to hospital. Distinguishing between higher-risk patients needing hospitalization and lower-risk patients suitable for discharge home is important to optimize both cost-effectiveness and clinical outcomes. However, this can be challenging and few validated risk stratification tools currently exist to help clinicians. Some prognostic variables predict risks broadly in those who are admitted or discharged from the emergency department. Risk stratification methods such as the Emergency Heart Failure Mortality Risk Grade and Acute Heart Failure Index clinical decision support tools, which utilize many of these predictors, have been found to be accurate in identifying low-risk patients. The use of observation units may also be a cost-effective adjunctive strategy that can assist in determining disposition from the emergency department.
doi:10.1007/s11897-012-0100-1
PMCID: PMC3406314  PMID: 22798046
Heart failure; Emergency department; Risk stratification; Hospitalization; Hospital discharge
17.  Emergency department overcrowding and ambulance transport delays for patients with chest pain 
Objective
Emergency department overcrowding sometimes results in diversion of ambulances to other locations. We sought to determine the resulting prehospital delays for cardiac patients.
Methods
Data on consecutive patients with chest pain who were transported to Toronto hospitals by ambulance were obtained for a 4-month period in 1997 and a 4-month period in 1999, which represented periods of low and high emergency department overcrowding respectively. Multivariate analyses were used to model 90th percentile system response (initiation of 9-1-1 call to arrival on scene), on-scene (arrival on scene to departure from scene) and transport (departure from scene to arrival at hospital) intervals. Predictor variables were study period (1997 or 1999), day of the week, time of day, geographic location of the patient, dispatch priority, case severity, return priority and number of other patients with chest pain transported within 2 hours of the index transport.
Results
A total of 3609 patients (mean age 66.3 years, 50.3% female) who met the study criteria were transported by ambulance during the 2 study periods. There were no significant differences in patient characteristics between the 2 periods, despite the fact that more patients were transported during the second period (p < 0.001). The 90th percentile system response interval increased by 11.3% from the first to the second period (9.7 v. 10.8 min, p < 0.001), whereas the on-scene interval decreased by 8.2% (28.0 v. 25.7 min, p < 0.001). The longest delay was in the transport interval, which increased by 28.4% from 1997 to 1999 (13.4 v. 17.2 min, p < 0.001). In multivariate analyses, the study period (1997 v. 1999) remained a significant predictor of longer transport interval (p < 0.001) and total prehospital interval (p = 0.004).
Interpretation
An increase in overcrowding in emergency departments was associated with a substantial increase in the system response interval and the ambulance transport interval for patients with chest pain.
PMCID: PMC140469  PMID: 12566332
18.  Evaluating a streamlined clinical tool and educational outreach intervention for health care workers in Malawi: the PALM PLUS case study 
Background
Nearly 3 million people in resource-poor countries receive antiretrovirals for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, yet millions more require treatment. Key barriers to treatment scale up are shortages of trained health care workers, and challenges integrating HIV/AIDS care with primary care.
The research
PALM PLUS (Practical Approach to Lung Health and HIV/AIDS in Malawi) is an intervention designed to simplify and integrate existing Malawian national guidelines into a single, simple, user-friendly guideline for mid-level health care workers. Training utilizes a peer-to-peer educational outreach approach. Research is being undertaken to evaluate this intervention to generate evidence that will guide future decision-making for consideration of roll out in Malawi. The research consists of a cluster randomized trial in 30 public health centres in Zomba District that measures the effect of the intervention on staff satisfaction and retention, quality of patient care, and costs through quantitative, qualitative and health economics methods.
Results and outcomes
In the first phase of qualitative inquiry respondents from intervention sites demonstrated in-depth knowledge of PALM PLUS compared to those from control sites. Participants in intervention sites felt that the PALM PLUS tool empowered them to provide better health services to patients. Interim staff retention data shows that there were, on average, 3 to 4 staff departing from the control and intervention sites per month. Additional qualitative, quantitative and economic analyses are planned.
The partnership
Dignitas International and the Knowledge Translation Unit at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute have led the adaptation and development of the PALM PLUS intervention, using experience gained through the implementation of the South African precursor, PALSA PLUS. The Malawian partners, REACH Trust and the Research Unit at the Ministry of Health, have led the qualitative and economic evaluations. Dignitas and Ministry of Health have facilitated interaction with implementers and policy-makers.
Challenges and successes
This initiative is an example of South-South knowledge translation between South Africa and Malawi, mediated by a Canadian academic-NGO hybrid. Our success in developing and rolling out PALM PLUS in Malawi suggests that it is possible to adapt and implement this intervention for use in other resource-limited settings.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S2-S11
PMCID: PMC3247831  PMID: 22166125
19.  Prediction of Emergent Heart Failure Death by Semi-Quantitative Triage Risk Stratification 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23065.
Objectives
Generic triage risk assessments are widely used in the emergency department (ED), but have not been validated for prediction of short-term risk among patients with acute heart failure (HF). Our objective was to evaluate the Canadian Triage Acuity Scale (CTAS) for prediction of early death among HF patients.
Methods
We included patients presenting with HF to an ED in Ontario from Apr 2003 to Mar 2007. We used the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System and vital statistics databases to examine care and outcomes.
Results
Among 68,380 patients (76±12 years, 49.4% men), early mortality was stratified with death rates of 9.9%, 1.9%, 0.9%, and 0.5% at 1-day, and 17.2%, 5.9%, 3.8%, and 2.5% at 7-days, for CTAS 1, 2, 3, and 4–5, respectively. Compared to lower acuity (CTAS 4–5) patients, adjusted odds ratios (aOR) for 1-day death were 1.32 (95%CI; 0.93–1.88; p = 0.12) for CTAS 3, 2.41 (95%CI; 1.71–3.40; p<0.001) for CTAS 2, and highest for CTAS 1: 9.06 (95%CI; 6.28–13.06; p<0.001). Predictors of triage-critical (CTAS 1) status included oxygen saturation <90% (aOR 5.92, 95%CI; 3.09–11.81; p<0.001), respiratory rate >24 breaths/minute (aOR 1.96, 95%CI; 1.05–3.67; p = 0.034), and arrival by paramedic (aOR 3.52, 95%CI; 1.70–8.02; p = 0.001). While age/sex-adjusted CTAS score provided good discrimination for ED (c-statistic = 0.817) and 1-day (c-statistic = 0.724) death, mortality prediction was improved further after accounting for cardiac and non-cardiac co-morbidities (c-statistics 0.882 and 0.810, respectively; both p<0.001).
Conclusions
A semi-quantitative triage acuity scale assigned at ED presentation and based largely on respiratory factors predicted emergent death among HF patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023065
PMCID: PMC3154275  PMID: 21853068
20.  From PALSA PLUS to PALM PLUS: adapting and developing a South African guideline and training intervention to better integrate HIV/AIDS care with primary care in rural health centers in Malawi 
Background
Only about one-third of eligible HIV/AIDS patients receive anti-retroviral treatment (ART). Decentralizing treatment is crucial to wider and more equitable access, but key obstacles are a shortage of trained healthcare workers (HCW) and challenges integrating HIV/AIDS care with other primary care. This report describes the development of a guideline and training program (PALM PLUS) designed to integrate HIV/AIDS care with other primary care in Malawi. PALM PLUS was adapted from PALSA PLUS, developed in South Africa, and targets middle-cadre HCWs (clinical officers, nurses, and medical assistants). We adapted it to align with Malawi's national treatment protocols, more varied healthcare workforce, and weaker health system infrastructure.
Methods/Design
The international research team included the developers of the PALSA PLUS program, key Malawi-based team members and personnel from national and district level Ministry of Health (MoH), professional associations, and an international non-governmental organization. The PALSA PLUS guideline was extensively revised based on Malawi national disease-specific guidelines. Advice and input was sought from local clinical experts, including middle-cadre personnel, as well as Malawi MoH personnel and representatives of Malawian professional associations.
Results
An integrated guideline adapted to Malawian protocols for adults with respiratory conditions, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other primary care conditions was developed. The training program was adapted to Malawi's health system and district-level supervision structure. PALM PLUS is currently being piloted in a cluster-randomized trial in health centers in Malawi (ISRCTN47805230).
Discussion
The PALM PLUS guideline and training intervention targets primary care middle-cadre HCWs with the objective of improving HCW satisfaction and retention, and the quality of patient care. Successful adaptations are feasible, even across health systems as different as those of South Africa and Malawi.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-82
PMCID: PMC3162564  PMID: 21791048
21.  Association between waiting times and short term mortality and hospital admission after departure from emergency department: population based cohort study from Ontario, Canada 
Objective To determine whether patients who are not admitted to hospital after attending an emergency department during shifts with long waiting times are at risk for adverse events.
Design Population based retrospective cohort study using health administrative databases.
Setting High volume emergency departments in Ontario, Canada, fiscal years 2003-7.
Participants All emergency department patients who were not admitted (seen and discharged; left without being seen).
Outcome measures Risk of adverse events (admission to hospital or death within seven days) adjusted for important characteristics of patients, shift, and hospital.
Results 13 934 542 patients were seen and discharged and 617 011 left without being seen. The risk of adverse events increased with the mean length of stay of similar patients in the same shift in the emergency department. For mean length of stay ≥6 v <1 hour the adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) was 1.79 (1.24 to 2.59) for death and 1.95 (1.79 to 2.13) for admission in high acuity patients and 1.71 (1.25 to 2.35) for death and 1.66 (1.56 to 1.76) for admission in low acuity patients). Leaving without being seen was not associated with an increase in adverse events at the level of the patient or by annual rates of the hospital.
Conclusions Presenting to an emergency department during shifts with longer waiting times, reflected in longer mean length of stay, is associated with a greater risk in the short term of death and admission to hospital in patients who are well enough to leave the department. Patients who leave without being seen are not at higher risk of short term adverse events.
doi:10.1136/bmj.d2983
PMCID: PMC3106148  PMID: 21632665
22.  Association between waiting times and short term mortality and hospital admission after departure from emergency department: population based cohort study from Ontario, Canada 
The BMJ  2011;342:d2983.
Objective To determine whether patients who are not admitted to hospital after attending an emergency department during shifts with long waiting times are at risk for adverse events.
Design Population based retrospective cohort study using health administrative databases.
Setting High volume emergency departments in Ontario, Canada, fiscal years 2003-7.
Participants All emergency department patients who were not admitted (seen and discharged; left without being seen).
Outcome measures Risk of adverse events (admission to hospital or death within seven days) adjusted for important characteristics of patients, shift, and hospital.
Results 13 934 542 patients were seen and discharged and 617 011 left without being seen. The risk of adverse events increased with the mean length of stay of similar patients in the same shift in the emergency department. For mean length of stay ≥6 v <1 hour the adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) was 1.79 (1.24 to 2.59) for death and 1.95 (1.79 to 2.13) for admission in high acuity patients and 1.71 (1.25 to 2.35) for death and 1.66 (1.56 to 1.76) for admission in low acuity patients). Leaving without being seen was not associated with an increase in adverse events at the level of the patient or by annual rates of the hospital.
Conclusions Presenting to an emergency department during shifts with longer waiting times, reflected in longer mean length of stay, is associated with a greater risk in the short term of death and admission to hospital in patients who are well enough to leave the department. Patients who leave without being seen are not at higher risk of short term adverse events.
doi:10.1136/bmj.d2983
PMCID: PMC3106148  PMID: 21632665
23.  The effect of a charted history of depression on emergency department triage and outcomes in patients with acute myocardial infarction 
Background
Patients with acute myocardial infarction may have worse outcomes if they also have a history of depression. The early management of acute myocardial infarction is known to influence outcomes, and patients with a coexisting history of depression may be treated differently in the emergency department than those without one. Our goal was to determine whether having a charted history of depression was associated with a lower-priority emergency department triage score and worse performance on quality-of-care indices.
Methods
We conducted a retrospective population-based cohort analysis involving patients with acute myocardial infarction admitted to 96 acute care hospitals in the province of Ontario from April 2004 to March 2005. We calculated the adjusted odds of low-priority triage (Canadian Emergency Department Triage and Acuity Scale score of 3, 4 or 5) for patients with acute myocardial infarction who had a charted history of depression. We compared these odds with those for patients having a charted history of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Secondary outcome measures were the odds of meeting benchmark door-to-electrocardiogram, door-to-needle and door-to-balloon times.
Results
Of 6784 patients with acute myocardial infarction, 680 (10.0%) had a past medical history of depression documented in their chart. Of these patients, 39.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 35.3%–42.9%) were assigned a low-priority triage score, as compared with 32.7% (95% CI 31.5%–33.9%) of those without a charted history of depression. The adjusted odds of receiving a low-priority triage score with a charted history of depression were 1.26 (p = 0.01) versus 0.88 (p = 0.23) with asthma and 1.12 (p = 0.24) with COPD. For patients with a charted history of depression, the median door-to-electrocardiogram time was 20.0 minutes (v. 17.0 min for the rest of the cohort), median door-to-needle time was 53.0 (v. 37.0) minutes, and median door-to-balloon time was 251.0 (v. 110.0) minutes. The adjusted odds of missing the benchmark time with a charted history of depression were 1.39 (p < 0.001) for door-to-electrocardiogram time, 1.62 (p = 0.047) for door-to-needle time and 9.12 (p = 0.019) for door-to-balloon time.
Interpretation
Patients with acute myocardial infarction who had a charted history of depression were more likely to receive a low-priority emergency department triage score than those with other comorbidities and to have worse associated performance on quality indicators in acute myocardial infarction care.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.100685
PMCID: PMC3071386  PMID: 21398248
24.  Strengthening health human resources and improving clinical outcomes through an integrated guideline and educational outreach in resource-poor settings: a cluster-randomized trial 
Trials  2010;11:118.
Background
In low-income countries, only about a third of Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) patients eligible for anti-retroviral treatment currently receive it. Providing decentralized treatment close to where patients live is crucial to a faster scale up, however, a key obstacle is limited health system capacity due to a shortage of trained health-care workers and challenges of integrating HIV/AIDS care with other primary care services (e.g. tuberculosis, malaria, respiratory conditions). This study will test an adapted primary care health care worker training and guideline intervention, Practical Approach to Lung Health and HIV/AIDS Malawi (PALM PLUS), on staff retention and satisfaction, and quality of patient care.
Methods/Design
A cluster-randomized trial design is being used to compare usual care with a standardized clinical guideline and training intervention, PALM PLUS. The intervention targets middle-cadre health care workers (nurses, clinical officers, medical assistants) in 30 rural primary care health centres in a single district in Malawi. PALM PLUS is an integrated, symptom-based and user-friendly guideline consistent with Malawian national treatment protocols. Training is standardized and based on an educational outreach approach. Trainers will be front-line peer healthcare workers trained to provide outreach training and support to their fellow front-line healthcare workers during focused (1-2 hours), intermittent, interactive sessions on-site in health centers. Primary outcomes are health care worker retention and satisfaction. Secondary outcomes are clinical outcomes measured at the health centre level for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission of HIV and other primary care conditions. Effect sizes and 95% confidence intervals for outcomes will be presented. Assessment of outcomes will occur at 1 year post- implementation.
Discussion
The PALM PLUS trial aims to address a key problem: strengthening middle-cadre health care workers to support the broader scale up of HIV/AIDS services and their integration into primary care. The trial will test whether the PALM PLUS intervention improves staff satisfaction and retention, as well as the quality of patient care, when compared to usual practice.
Trial Registration
Current controlled Trials: ISRCTN47805230
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-11-118
PMCID: PMC3017521  PMID: 21129211
25.  A prospective cluster-randomized trial to implement the Canadian CT Head Rule in emergency departments 
Background
The Canadian CT Head Rule was developed to allow physicians to be more selective when ordering computed tomography (CT) imaging for patients with minor head injury. We sought to evaluate the effectiveness of implementing this validated decision rule at multiple emergency departments.
Methods
We conducted a matched-pair cluster-randomized trial that compared the outcomes of 4531 patients with minor head injury during two 12-month periods (before and after) at hospital emergency departments in Canada, six of which were randomly allocated as intervention sites and six as control sites. At the intervention sites, active strategies, including education, changes to policy and real-time reminders on radiologic requisitions were used to implement the Canadian CT Head Rule. The main outcome measure was referral for CT scan of the head.
Results
Baseline characteristics of patients were similar when comparing control to intervention sites. At the intervention sites, the proportion of patients referred for CT imaging increased from the “before” period (62.8%) to the “after” period (76.2%) (difference +13.3%, 95% CI 9.7%–17.0%). At the control sites, the proportion of CT imaging usage also increased, from 67.5% to 74.1% (difference +6.7%, 95% CI 2.6%–10.8%). The change in mean imaging rates from the “before” period to the “after” period for intervention versus control hospitals was not significant (p = 0.16). There were no missed brain injuries or adverse outcomes.
Interpretation
Our knowledge–translation-based trial of the Canadian CT Head Rule did not reduce rates of CT imaging in Canadian emergency departments. Future studies should identify strategies to deal with barriers to implementation of this decision rule and explore more effective approaches to knowledge translation. (ClinicalTrials.gov trial register no. NCT00993252)
doi:10.1503/cmaj.091974
PMCID: PMC2950184  PMID: 20732978

Results 1-25 (38)