Knowledge deficits related to the QT interval could affect patient safety.
BACKGROUND: Recently, some QT-prolonging, noncardiac medications were withdrawn from the U.S. drug market because of continued inappropriate use by health care practitioners despite warnings and label changes from both the drug manufacturers and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This led us to assess the health care practitioners' knowledge of the QT interval and medications that may prolong it. METHODS: We surveyed health care practitioners, primarily specialists in cardiology, to identify knowledge deficits related to the QT interval. RESULTS: From a total of 334 survey respondents, 157 (47%) were physicians; 271 (81%) stated that cardiology was their area of specialization. Most of the respondents (86%) said that they would check an ECG before and after starting QT-prolonging medications, but less than half (42%) of all respondents and only 60% of physician respondents were able to accurately measure a sample QT interval on the survey. Less than two-thirds (63%) of respondents were able to accurately identify possible QT-prolonging medications, while only about half (51%) could accurately identify medication combinations that might prolong the QT interval. CONCLUSIONS: We identified significant knowledge deficits regarding the QT interval and QT-prolonging medications. Additional research is needed to determine the extent to which these knowledge deficits may negatively affect patient safety. We must also develop effective strategies to eliminate these deficits.
LaPointe, NMA; Al-Khatib, SM; Kramer, JM; Califf, RM
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