Enhanced access to primary care for patients with congestive heart failure. Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study Group on Primary Care and Hospital Readmission.
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether enhanced access to primary care affects the diagnostic evaluation, pharmacologic management, or health outcomes of patients hospitalized with congestive heart failure (CHF). DESIGN: Multisite randomized, controlled trial. SETTING: Nine Veterans Affairs medical centers. PATIENTS: 443 patients who were hospitalized with a diagnosis of CHF. INTERVENTION: Enhanced access to primary care, including assignment of a primary care nurse and physician, increased telephone contact, additional outpatient visits, and patient education. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Diagnostic evaluation, pharmacologic management, health-related quality of life, and hospital readmission rates. RESULTS: About 80% of patients who had enhanced access to care and patients receiving usual care underwent recommended evaluation of left ventricular ejection fraction. Among the subset of patients for whom an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor was recommended (i.e., ejection fraction < 40%), three quarters of the patients in both the enhanced access and usual care groups received the drug (75% vs. 73%; P > 0.2). Enhanced access to primary care did not improve quality of life and increased hospital readmissions, with an average of 1.5 +/- SD 2.0 readmissions per 6 months of follow-up for patients who had enhanced access compared with 1.1 +/- SD 1.8 for those who received usual care (P = 0.02). CONCLUSIONS: Compliance with recommended CHF testing and treatment guidelines was equally high in both study groups. Enhanced access to primary care did not improve patients' self-reported health status and was associated with more frequent hospitalizations.
Oddone, EZ; Weinberger, M; Giobbie-Hurder, A; Landsman, P; Henderson, W
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