The aim of the study was to evaluate the quality of asthma-related referral letters at the launch of the Asthma Programme in 1994 and 7 years later in 2001.
All referrals during 1 year (n=1121 in 1994, n=1136 in 2001) to one pulmonary department were screened in 2001. By the same inclusion criteria of asthma or suspicion of asthma, 624 letters (56% of all) from the year 1994 and 452 (40% of all) from the year 2001 were selected. The quality of study letters was assessed against the previously developed asthma referral letter criteria. Comparison of the referral letter quality in 1994 and 2001 was made.
The proportion of poor letters decreased from 63% in 1994 to 44% in 2001, while that of good letters increased from 7% to 22%. Graphics of peak flow follow-up measurements (14% vs. 40%) and spirometry with bronchodilatation test (5% vs. 32%) were included significantly more often as an attachment.
Lung functions are being measured more often in primary care, indication a more active detection of asthma. The number of asthma-related referrals in relation to all pulmonary consultation referrals decreased and their quality improved during the years of the Asthma Programme.
To assess the quality of primary care spirometry by visual inspection of the flow-volume expiratory curve and to study the quantity of clinical information provided on the spirometry report sheets.
Retrospective audit of 868 expiratory flow-volume curves referred to three pulmonary clinics assessed against five predefined quality criteria. Clinical information included on the spirometry report sheets was also collected.
Quality was good in 78% of pre-bronchodilation curves and in 80% of post-bronchodilation curves. Obtaining a sharp PEF value and full vital capacity exhalation seemed to be the critical points of measurement. Inter-rater reliability of the curve assessment was mainly good. Data on where the spirometry took place, and comments on the use of respiratory medication and patient co-operation were often lacking.
The quality of primary care spirometry was good. Adequate clinical information on the report sheets would further improve the quality of this diagnostic process.
Comment In: Prim Care Respir J. 2009 Sep;18(3):231-2; author reply 23219662322
Erratum In: Prim Care Respir J. 2009 Sep;18(3):184