Adult bronchiectasis, asthma therapy, frailty in ILD


Clinical Research

New guidelines for adult bronchiectasis

Clinically significant bronchiectasis is a combination of radiologic bronchial dilatation with clinical symptoms. Guidelines on management of adult bronchiectasis were recently published (Eur Respir J. 2017; Sep 10;50[3]).

For all adult patients with clinically significant bronchiectasis, the guidelines suggest standardized minimum testing with differential blood count, serum immunoglobulins, and testing for allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis with any further workup on an individual basis. Annual sputum surveillance is suggested for clinically stable adult patients; however, the evidence for this recommendation came from studies done on patients with cystic fibrosis.

Dr. Bharat Bajantri
Inhaled bronchodilators are suggested as the first-line treatment in symptomatic patients. Long-term antibiotics (greater than 3 months) are recommended in patients with greater than 3 exacerbations/year after optimizing airway clearance and disease-specific treatment. Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections are to be treated with inhaled antibiotics (colistin or gentamicin) (Charles SH, et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2014;189[8]975; Murray P, et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011;183[4]:491; and nonpseudomonal infections are to be treated with macrolides (Conroy W, et al. Lancet. 2012;380[9842]:660; Altenburg J, et al. JAMA. 2013;309[12];1251), although interchangeable for intolerance. Sputum cultured early will guide therapy among poor responders. Long-term mucolytic agents are suggested in appropriate tolerating patients. Pulmonary rehabilitation for 6-8 weeks is strongly recommended in adult bronchiectasis with impaired exercise capacity. Surgical interventions for bronchiectasis are reserved for a small group of patients who have localized disease and high exacerbation rates despite maximal medical therapy. Inhaled corticosteroids are suggested not to be used in adult bronchiectasis. Guidelines recommend against the use of statins and recombinant human DNase as it increases exacerbations (Chest. 1998;113[5]:1329. The task force acknowledged the low quality of evidence for their recommendations requiring more research in the field of adult bronchiectasis.

Bharat Bajantri, MD

Fellow-in-Training Member

Airways Disorders

ICS/LABA combo therapy: black box warning removed

Publication of the Salmeterol Multicenter Asthma Research Trial (SMART) in 2006 caused panic among asthmatics and the physicians who treat them (Nelson et al. Chest. 2006;129[1]:15). The study suggested that the long-acting beta-2-agonist (LABA) salmeterol leads to an increased risk of asthma/respiratory-related deaths compared with placebo. This finding was more pronounced in the African American subpopulation. The study left many questions unanswered, including whether or not this risk is present when LABA therapy is combined with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) (O’Byrne. Chest. 2006;129[1]:3). Subsequent meta-analyses confirmed the increased risk with LABA monotherapy but not with LABA/ICS (Salpeter et al. Ann Inter Med. 2006;144[12]: 904; Jaeschke et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2008;178[10]:1009). Still, a black box warning relating LABA to asthma-related death was applied to LABA/ICS products.

In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated large, randomized controlled trials be performed for LABA/ICS products to assess safety. These trials were recently completed, showing no difference in asthma-related deaths between LABA/ICS and ICS alone. There were 41, 297 patients across four trials, three included teenagers and adults (age ≥ 12) and one enrolled children (ages 4-11). These studies prompted the FDA to remove the black box warning from salmeterol/fluticasone, formoterol/budesonide, and formoterol/mometasone (https://wwwfdagov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/UCM589997pdf).

Conclusion: Because LABA/ICS therapy is effective for asthma, most pulmonologists continue to prescribe it despite the SMART study results and FDA warning. In a practical sense, we don’t expect the FDA findings to radically change asthma care. Still, it seems we can finally put this question to rest – LABA/ICS is indeed safe for asthmatics. Most physicians will continue to avoid LABA monotherapy, and now that tiotropium is included in the 2017 GINA guidelines, it’s only matter of time before we’re debating whether LABA/long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) is safe for asthmatics.

Aaron Holley, MD, FCCP

Steering Committee Member

Navitha Ramesh, MD, MBBS

Fellow-in-Training Member

Critical Care

Standardized handoffs in the ICU: room for improvement?

Transitions in patient care are commonplace in the ICU. But handoffs are particularly susceptible to error given the complexity of the patient population. Impacts of less-than-ideal handoffs likely include adverse events, delays in medical diagnosis and treatment, redundant communications, redundant activities such as additional procedures and tests, lower provider and patient satisfaction, higher costs, longer hospital stays, more hospital admissions, and less effective training for health -care providers. Yet, there is great heterogeneity in handoff practiced, and the impact of standardized handoffs in the ICU is unclear (Cochran A. JAMA Surg. 2018 Jan 3. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2017.5468. [Epub ahead of print]).

Dr. Shruti Gadre
In a survey of over 600 academic intensivists, 55% of the participants stated that attending handoffs in the ICU should be standardized, yet, only 13% of those participating in handoffs reported using a standardized process (Lane-Fall M. Crit Care Med. 2016;44[4]690). Clinician miscommunication contributes to an estimated 250,000 deaths in US hospitals per year (Makary M. BMJ. 2016 May 3;353:i2139. doi: 10.1136/bmj.i2139). Standardized handoffs may improve outcomes in the ICU.

In many ICUs that do use standardized sign-out templates, higher clinician satisfaction and fewer unexpected patient events have been reported (Bavare AC. J Healthc Qual. 2015;37[5]:267; Nanchal R. BMJ Qual Saf. 2017;26[12]:987). In a recent randomized controlled trial, use of a standardized handoff curriculum in the ICU resulted in a significant 3% decrease in communication errors, without any change in the duration of the handoff. There also was a clinician-reported improvement in team communication and patient safety; but no changes in ICU length of stay, duration of mechanical ventilation, or number of re-intubations were noted (JAMA Surg. 2018 Jan 3. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2017.5440. [Epub ahead of print]).

Unfortunately, despite interest in improving patient handoffs, there are few tools to evaluate the effectiveness of different handoff strategies. Most studies report clinician perceptions rather than patient-centered outcomes. Further research is required to examine the optimal approach to handover communication. However, based on the available evidence, a standardized approach to handoffs is likely better than a nonstandardized format.

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