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1.  Identifying adults at risk of COPD who need confirmatory spirometry in primary care 
Canadian Family Physician  2011;57(2):e51-e57.
To examine the usefulness of a symptom-based case-finding questionnaire (CFQ) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) dyspnea scale in identifying which individuals with known risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) require targeted spirometry in primary care.
Cross-sectional study.
Three community primary care practices in Ontario.
Men and women 40 years of age and older with a smoking history of 20 pack-years or more.
Main outcome measures
We administered a CFQ for the presence of cough, sputum, wheeze, dyspnea, and recurrent respiratory infections (possible range of scores from 0 to 5) and applied the MRC dyspnea scale to assess the severity of COPD (possible range of scores from 1 to 5). Spirometric measures of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) were collected, with COPD defined as a postbronchodilator FEV1/FVC of less than 0.7 and FEV1 of less than 80% of the predicted value. Using spirometric data to confirm the diagnosis of COPD, likelihood ratios, pretest and posttest probabilities, and area under a receiver operating characteristic curve were calculated for the total CFQ and MRC scores.
Scores for the CFQ and MRC dyspnea scale were available for 996 and 829 participants, respectively. The likelihood ratios for a total CFQ score of 3 or higher and an MRC dyspnea score of 4 or 5 were 1.82 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.48 to 2.22) and 4.22 (95% CI 2.08 to 8.56), respectively. The likelihood ratios for a total CFQ score of 2 or less and an MRC dyspnea score of 1 were 0.75 (95% CI 0.66 to 0.85) and 0.50 (95% CI 0.39 to 0.65), respectively. Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.62 (95% CI 0.58 to 0.67; P < .001) for the total CFQ scores and 0.64 (95% CI 0.60 to 068; P < .001) for the MRC dyspnea scores.
In adults with known risk factors, the likelihood of having moderate to severe COPD is increased in those who report 3 or more common respiratory symptoms and marked functional limitation resulting from dyspnea. However, selecting individuals for spirometry based on symptoms alone will identify less than half of those with moderate to severe COPD.
PMCID: PMC3038833  PMID: 21642706
2.  Prevalence and underdiagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among patients at risk in primary care 
People with known risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are important targets for screening and early intervention. We sought to measure the prevalence of COPD among such individuals visiting a primary care practitioner for any reason. We also evaluated the accuracy of prior diagnosis or nondiagnosis of COPD and identified associated clinical characteristics.
We recruited patients from three primary care sites who were 40 years or older and had a smoking history of at least 20 pack-years. Participants were asked about respiratory symptoms and underwent postbronchodilator spirometry. COPD was defined as a ratio of forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration to forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC) of less than 0.7 and an FEV1 of less than 80% predicted.
Of the 1459 patients who met the study criteria, 1003 (68.7%) completed spirometry testing. Of these, 208 were found to have COPD, for a prevalence of 20.7% (95% confidence interval 18.3%–23.4%). Of the 205 participants with COPD who completed the interview about respiratory symptoms before spirometry, only 67 (32.7%) were aware of their diagnosis before the study. Compared with patients in whom COPD had been correctly diagnosed before the study, those in whom COPD had been over-diagnosed or undiagnosed were similar in terms of age, sex, current smoking status and number of visits to a primary care practitioner because of a respiratory problem.
Among adult patients visiting a primary care practitioner, as many as one in five with known risk factors met spirometric criteria for COPD. Underdiagnosis of COPD was frequent, which suggests a need for greater screening of at-risk individuals. Knowledge of the prevalence of COPD will help plan strategies for disease management.
PMCID: PMC2855915  PMID: 20371646
3.  Patient preferences for inhaler devices in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: experience with Respimat® Soft Mist™ Inhaler 
Current guidelines for the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) recommend the regular use of inhaled bronchodilator therapy in order to relieve symptoms and prevent exacerbations. A variety of inhaler devices are currently available to COPD patients, and the choice of device is an important consideration because it can influence patients’ adherence to treatment, and thus potentially affect the long-term outcome. The Respimat® Soft Mist™ Inhaler (SMI) generates a slow-moving aerosol with a high fine particle fraction, resulting in deposition of a higher proportion of the dose in the lungs than pressurized metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs) or some dry powder inhalers (DPIs). We review clinical studies of inhaler satisfaction and preference comparing Respimat® SMI against other inhalers in COPD patients. Using objective and validated patient satisfaction instruments, Respimat® SMI was consistently shown to be well accepted by COPD patients, largely due to its inhalation and handling characteristics. In comparative studies with pMDIs, the patient total satisfaction score with Respimat® SMI was statistically and clinically significantly higher than with the pMDI. In comparative studies with DPIs, the total satisfaction score was statistically significantly higher than for the Turbuhaler® DPI, but only the performance domain of satisfaction was clinically significantly higher for Respimat® SMI. Whether the observed higher levels of patient satisfaction reported with Respimat® SMI might be expected to result in improved adherence to therapy and thus provide benefits consistent with those recently shown to be associated with sustained bronchodilator treatment in patients with COPD remains to be proven.
PMCID: PMC2829861  PMID: 19888356
Respimat® Soft Mist™ Inhaler; pressurized metered-dose inhalers; pressurized metered-dose inhalers; inhaler devices
4.  Early drotrecogin alpha (activated) administration in severe sepsis is associated with lower mortality: a retrospective analysis of the Canadian ENHANCE cohort 
Critical Care  2009;13(3):R78.
Early multimodal treatment of severe sepsis, including the use of drotrecogin alfa (activated) (DrotAA) when indicated, is considered essential for optimum outcome. However, predicting which infected patients will progress to severe sepsis and the need for aggressive intervention continues to be problematic. We therefore wished to explore whether there were any potential early markers that might predict improved survival in response to early use of DrotAA in patients with severe sepsis. In particular, in the dynamic setting of severe sepsis, we postulated that changes in markers reflecting evolving rather than baseline clinical status might guide therapy.
Data on a cohort of 305 Canadian patients from the open label ENHANCE trial of DrotAA in severe sepsis was retrospectively analyzed to search for potential clinical predictors of outcome in severe sepsis. Patients received a 96-hour infusion of DrotAA and were followed for 28 days. The association between time to treatment and mortality within subgroups defined by dynamic changes in various potential markers was explored.
Mortality at 28 days was 22.6% and the variables of age, time to treatment, and early changes in serum creatinine and platelet count were identified by logistic regression as independent predictors of mortality. Across all age ranges, 28-day mortality was lower when DrotAA was administered within 24 hours of first sepsis-induced organ dysfunction compared to administration after 24 hours for both subgroups of patients defined by changes in platelet count and creatinine within the first day.
These findings suggest that when indicated, treatment with DrotAA should be initiated as soon as possible, regardless of age.
Trial Registration
Previous trial registration number: NCT00568893
PMCID: PMC2717441  PMID: 19457240
5.  Outcomes in COPD patients receiving tiotropium or salmeterol plus treatment with inhaled corticosteroids 
Patients with COPD are frequently prescribed inhaled corticosteroids (ICS); however, it is unclear whether the treatment with ICS might modify responses to inhaled bronchodilators. Two 6-month, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, double-dummy, parallel-group studies of tiotropium 18 μg once daily, compared with salmeterol, 50 μg bid, had been conducted in patients with moderate-to-severe COPD. Efficacy was assessed by spirometry, transition dyspnea index (TDI), St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), and exacerbations. Data from both studies were combined to form subgroups with regard to concurrent use of ICS. 796 patients receiving ICS were separately analyzed from 390 patients not receiving ICS. Mean age was 64 years, and pre-bronchodilator FEV1 was 1.06 L (ICS group) and 1.13 L (non-ICS group). Both bronchodilators increased morning mean ± SE pre-dose FEV1 compared with placebo (ICS groups: tiotropium 110 ± 20 mL, salmeterol 80 ± 20 mL; non-ICS groups: tiotropium 150 ± 30 mL, salmeterol 110 ± 30 mL; p > 0.05 for tiotropium vs salmeterol). Improvements in TDI and SGRQ and frequency of exacerbations also tended to be more profound for tiotropium. Treatment with tiotropium in patients with moderate-to-severe COPD was superior to salmeterol in lung function, irrespective of concurrent use of ICS.
PMCID: PMC3321723  PMID: 18044688
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; inhaled corticosteroids; salmeterol; tiotropium; fluticasone
6.  Swine Influenza A Outbreak, Fort Dix, New Jersey, 1976 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2006;12(1):23-28.
Published literature and events surrounding the outbreak are reviewed.
In early 1976, the novel A/New Jersey/76 (Hsw1N1) influenza virus caused severe respiratory illness in 13 soldiers with 1 death at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Since A/New Jersey was similar to the 1918–1919 pandemic virus, rapid outbreak assessment and enhanced surveillance were initiated. A/New Jersey virus was detected only from January 19 to February 9 and did not spread beyond Fort Dix. A/Victoria/75 (H3N2) spread simultaneously, also caused illness, and persisted until March. Up to 230 soldiers were infected with the A/New Jersey virus. Rapid recognition of A/New Jersey, swift outbreak assessment, and enhanced surveillance resulted from excellent collaboration between Fort Dix, New Jersey Department of Health, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and Center for Disease Control personnel. Despite efforts to define the events at Fort Dix, many questions remain unanswered, including the following: Where did A/New Jersey come from? Why did transmission stop?
PMCID: PMC3291397  PMID: 16494712
Influenza; military; respiratory disease; swine; perspective
7.  Prevention and diagnosis of venous thromboembolism in critically ill patients: a Canadian survey 
Critical Care  2001;5(6):336-342.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) confers considerable morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients, although few studies have focused on the critically ill population. The objective of this study was to understand current approaches to the prevention and diagnosis of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) among patients in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Mailed self-administered survey of ICU Directors in Canadian university affiliated hospitals.
Of 29 ICU Directors approached, 29 (100%) participated, representing 44 ICUs and 681 ICU beds across Canada. VTE prophylaxis is primarily determined by individual ICU clinicians (20/29, 69.0%) or with a hematology consultation for challenging patients (9/29, 31.0%). Decisions are usually made on a case-by-case basis (18/29, 62.1%) rather than by preprinted orders (5/29, 17.2%), institutional policies (6/29, 20.7%) or formal practice guidelines (2/29, 6.9%). Unfractionated heparin is the predominant VTE prophylactic strategy (29/29, 100.0%) whereas low molecular weight heparin is used less often, primarily for trauma and orthopedic patients. Use of pneumatic compression devices and thromboembolic stockings is variable. Systematic screening for DVT with lower limb ultrasound once or twice weekly was reported by some ICU Directors (7/29, 24.1%) for specific populations. Ultrasound is the most common diagnostic test for DVT; the reference standard of venography is rarely used. Spiral computed tomography chest scans and ventilation–perfusion scans are used more often than pulmonary angiograms for the diagnosis of PE. ICU Directors recommend further studies in the critically ill population to determine the test properties and risk:benefit ratio of VTE investigations, and the most cost-effective methods of prophylaxis in medical–surgical ICU patients.
Unfractionated subcutaneous heparin is the predominant VTE prophylaxis strategy for critically ill patients, although low molecular weight heparin is prescribed for trauma and orthopedic patients. DVT is most often diagnosed by lower limb ultrasound; however, several different tests are used to diagnose PE. Fundamental research in critically ill patients is needed to help make practice evidence-based.
PMCID: PMC83855  PMID: 11737922
critical care; deep venous thrombosis; diagnosis; intensive care unit; prevention; pulmonary embolism; thromboembolism
8.  Enzyme Immune Assay—Portable Microcomputer Interfaced System 
This paper describes an enzyme immune assay system interfaced with microcomputers. Developed initially for Hewlett-Packard 9825A microprocessor, the system now utilizes an Apple II Plus with two disk drives, a printer and a monitor. The system stores values read by a multi-channel spectrophotometer, keeps records and generates reports. The system was created with portability in mind and has been tested successfully in Africa. Information collected in the field is sent to a mainframe computer via modem for further statistical analysis. It functions well in the hospital, laboratory and remote field settings.
PMCID: PMC2578211
11.  Directed Test Review and Self-Evaluation Using a Microcomputer 
Medical students adopt various review strategies to prepare for the tests administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). The Uniformed Services University Board Review System (UBRS) was created to fill a perceived need by some students for a directed, intensive study aid based on questions in NBME format. In its current form, it is a useful adjunct for directed study, development of test-taking skills, and review of course material in any subject to which it is applied.
PMCID: PMC2581383

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