Background: The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines have been promulgated to improve the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). Objective: To evaluate the extent to which the current therapeutic approach to COPD conforms to GOLD guidelines. Methods: This was a multicentre observational study of elderly COPD patients enrolled for acute care in general medicine or geriatric wards in tertiary hospitals in Italy in April 2002. Our series consisted of 471 patients >64 years of age consecutively admitted for acute exacerbations of COPD to wards participating in the study. Data describing drugs used prior to exacerbation and prescribed at discharge were collected using a standardised protocol. Changes in prescription at discharge were then compared with home therapy. Demographic variables and indices of COPD severity and co-morbidity were tested as potential correlates for the main outcome measure 'variant prescription', i.e. prescription of a drug considered as a third-line treatment (e.g. methylxanthines) or not recommended (e.g. mucolytics) by GOLD guidelines. The correlation was assessed first by univariate analysis and then by logistic regression analysis. Results: At discharge, prescription of short-acting β2-adrenoceptor agonists had decreased from 26.3% to 14.0%. Conversely, increases in prescription of long-acting β2- adrenoceptor agonists (from 43.1% to 68.4%), inhaled corticosteroids (50.7% to 69.6%) and anticholinergics (17.2% to 22.3%) were seen. The rate of use of methylxanthines was 49.7% before admission and 44.8% at discharge, with previous use being the main correlate of discharge prescription for this class of drugs (odds ratio [OR] = 4.35; 95% CI 2.88, 6.54). The rate of use of mucolytics was 26.3% before admission and 26.8% at discharge, with use of mucolytics prior to admission being the only correlate of discharge prescription (OR = 4.10; 95% CI 2.47, 6.82). Conclusions: Hospitalisation resulted in increased adherence to GOLD guidelines in patients with COPD, but the rate of use of anticholinergics was distinctly low and that of methylxanthines and mucolytics surprisingly high. A carry-over effect (i.e. of therapy prescribed by general practitioners on that prescribed by hospital-based physicians) likely accounts for most of the 'variant prescriptions' seen at discharge from the acute care hospital.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology