The authors R. Breyer-Kohansal and S. Hartl contributed equally to the manuscript.
Acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD) are the major reason for COPD hospitalization and increased risk for readmissions. The organizational structure of Austrian hospitals provides the opportunity to investigate the impact of specialized respiratory care compared to general care on adherence to guidelines and readmission in AECOPD.
The data from the European COPD audit, a prospective observational non-interventional cohort trial were analyzed. In total, 823 patients admitted due to AECOPD in 26 hospitals (specialized respiratory care vs. general care) within Austria were included. Patients characteristics and outcomes (length of stay, readmission rate, and mortality) were analyzed in relation to hospital resources (personnel and equipment) and adherence to international guidelines.
Patients admitted to general care had more comorbidities (Charlson comorbidity index: 2.6 ± 1.7 vs. 2.0 ± 1.4; p < 0.05) and a shorter length of stay (10.7 ± 7.8 days vs. 12.0 ± 10.2 days; p < 0.05). Patients admitted to specialized respiratory care more often underwent blood gas analysis and non-invasive ventilation (98.4% vs. 81.5% and 68.6% vs. 26.7%, p < 0.01; respectively). In multivariate analysis, the risk for AECOPD readmission was lower (odds ratio, OR 0.72 [0.51;0.91]; p < 0.05) in patients admitted to specialized respiratory care.
A greater adherence to COPD guidelines with respect to blood gas analysis and non-invasive ventilation and decreased AECOPD readmission risk was observed for patients admitted to specialized respiratory care. Adherence to guidelines may have the potential to decrease COPD readmission rates.