Implementing a Continuous Quality Improvement Program in a High-Volume Clinical Echocardiography Laboratory: Improving Care for Patients With Aortic Stenosis.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The management of aortic stenosis rests on accurate echocardiographic diagnosis. Hence, it was chosen as a test case to examine the utility of continuous quality improvement (CQI) approaches to increase echocardiographic data accuracy and reliability. A novel, multistep CQI program was designed and prospectively used to investigate whether it could minimize the difference in aortic valve mean gradients reported by echocardiography when compared with cardiac catheterization. METHODS AND RESULTS: The Duke Echo Laboratory compiled a multidisciplinary CQI team including 4 senior sonographers and MD faculty to develop a mapped CQI process that incorporated Intersocietal Accreditation Commission standards. Quarterly, the CQI team reviewed all moderate- or greater-severity aortic stenosis echocardiography studies with concomitant catheterization data, and deidentified individual and group results were shared at meetings attended by cardiologists and sonographers. After review of 2011 data, the CQI team proposed specific amendments implemented over 2012: the use of nontraditional imaging and Doppler windows as well as evaluation of aortic gradients by a second sonographer. The primary outcome measure was agreement between catheterization- and echocardiography-derived mean gradients calculated by using the coverage probability index with a prespecified acceptable echocardiography-catheterization difference of <10 mm Hg in mean gradient. Between January 2011 and January 2014, 2093 echocardiograms reported moderate or greater aortic stenosis. Among cases with available catheterization data pre- and post-CQI, the coverage probability index increased from 54% to 70% (P=0.03; 98 cases, year 2011; 70 cases, year 2013). The proportion of patients referred for invasive valve hemodynamics decreased from 47% pre-CQI to 19% post-CQI (P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: A laboratory practice pattern that was amenable to reform was identified, and a multistep modification was designed and implemented that produced clinically valuable performance improvements. The new protocol improved aortic stenosis mean gradient agreement between echocardiography and catheterization and was associated with a measurable decrease in referrals of patients for invasive studies.

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Published Version (Please cite this version)

10.1161/CIRCIMAGING.115.003708

Publication Info

Samad, Zainab, Stephanie Minter, Alicia Armour, Amanda Tinnemore, Joseph A Sivak, Brenda Sedberry, Karen Strub, Seanna M Horan, et al. (2016). Implementing a Continuous Quality Improvement Program in a High-Volume Clinical Echocardiography Laboratory: Improving Care for Patients With Aortic Stenosis. Circ Cardiovasc Imaging, 9(3). 10.1161/CIRCIMAGING.115.003708 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/15611.

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Samad

Zainab Samad

Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine

Dr. Zainab Samad is chairwoman of the Department of Medicine at Aga Khan University (AKU) in Pakistan and currently serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke University. 

She attended Medical School at the Aga Khan University Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan and thereafter completed her residency training in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Cardiology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Additionally, she completed advanced training in cardiovascular imaging, specifically in clinical echocardiography, cardiac MRI and SPECT-myocardial perfusion imaging. She is also trained in quantitative methods with a Master of Health Sciences in Clinical Research degree from the National Institutes of Health- Duke Clinical Research Training Program. She served on faculty in the Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine for nine years before accepting the position at AKU in 2018. She resides full-time in Karachi.


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