Glaucoma care and conformance with preferred practice patterns. Examination of the private, community-based ophthalmologist.
BACKGROUND: Practice guidelines are becoming more prominent in the provision of medical care. A previous study demonstrated a high rate of conformance with recommended patterns of care for patients with open-angle glaucoma in an academic, public clinic setting. This study seeks to examine conformance within the private, community-based setting in which the vast majority of healthcare is delivered. METHODS: One-hundred ninety-three charts (average, 24 charts each from 8 different practices) of patients who received diagnoses for at least 2 years of open-angle glaucoma were evaluated retrospectively for conformance with recommendations from the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Preferred Practice Pattern (PPP) for primary open-angle glaucoma. The criteria were evaluated in three areas: (1) the performance of specified examination steps at the initial visit; (2) the performance of specified examination steps at follow-up; and (3) the time interval between follow-up visits. RESULTS: In 56.4% of patients who had stable moderate to severe glaucomatous damage, documentation of examination findings on the initial visit ranged from 39.4% for a pupil examination to 100% for intraocular pressure. At the initial visit, visual fields were obtained or scheduled in 90.2% of eyes, gonioscopy was performed in 51.3%, and the disc/nerve fiber layer status was noted in 97.9%. On follow-up, 44% of patients had documentation concerning the status of their glaucoma, but only 23.3% of patients had an optic nerve head drawing or photograph within 15 months of the most recent visit. In addition, the authors found that 37.8% of patient charts had neither an optic nerve head drawing nor a photograph documented after the initial visit. Finally, although 92.2% of patients with glaucoma were scheduled for follow-up within the time intervals recommended by the PPP, patients with uncontrolled or unstable glaucoma were the least likely to be followed up within PPP-recommended time intervals. CONCLUSIONS: Chart reviews from private, community-based ophthalmologists show that some initial examination steps such as gonioscopy and pupil examination are performed to widely varying degrees. While patients are generally likely to be scheduled for follow-up within PPP-recommended intervals, patients with unstable glaucoma are the least likely to be so scheduled. In addition, the visual appearance of the optic nerve is recorded for a relatively low percentage of patients. Additional data are needed from other geographic areas and other practice settings and for other patterns of care to more fully assess provider behavior relative to PPPs.
Hertzog, LH; Albrecht, KG; LaBree, L; Lee, PP
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