Background: Despite the development of evidence-based practice guidelines in many countries for asthma treatment in children, there is limited evidence that using such guidelines improves patient care. Aims: Our aim was to evaluate whether the implementation of an evidence-based asthma clinical practice guideline (CPG) worksheet changes clinical practice. Methods: The study was a before and after study of the implementation of a paediatric asthma CPG in a tertiary paediatric emergency department (ED). All children aged 2–16 years who had a diagnosis of asthma were included. Clinical data were obtained by retrospective chart review for time periods before (May to September 2003) and after (May to September 2005) the introduction of the CPG worksheet. Primary outcomes were: use of spacers for salbutamol instead of nebulisers, use of ipratropium and use of corticosteroids. Secondary outcomes were use of an ED action plan, ordering chest X-rays (CXR) and admission rate. Results: Before implementation, 240 children presented with asthma and after implementation, 286 children presented. The two groups had similar ages, asthma severity, admission respiratory rate (RR) and oxygen saturation. Following implementation there was an increase in spacer use from 17 to 26% [+9%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 2–16%; p = 0.015] and a reduction in ipratropium use from 58 to 44% (−13%; 95% CI: −22 to −5%; p = 0.0029). The proportion of patients treated with corticosteroids did not change. The number of patients with an ED action plan increased. The number of CXR ordered decreased and the hospital admission rate decreased. Conclusions: The study demonstrates that implementation of an asthma CPG worksheet in a tertiary paediatric ED resulted in modest changes in clinical practice, mainly by increasing clinician adherence to the guidelines.
International Journal of Emergency Medicine Vol. 2, Issue 1, p. 33-39