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).
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.
Bharat Bajantri, MD
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;129:15). 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;129:3). Subsequent meta-analyses confirmed the increased risk with LABA monotherapy but not with LABA/ICS (Salpeter et al. Ann Inter Med. 2006;144: 904; Jaeschke et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2008;178:1009). 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
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]).
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;37:267; Nanchal R. BMJ Qual Saf. 2017;26:987). 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.