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Gout in primary care: Can we improve patient outcomes?

Jacqueline Callear, Georgina Blakey, Alexandra Callear, Linda Sloan
BMJ Quality Improvement Reports 2017, 6 (1)
In the United Kingdom, gout represents one of the most common inflammatory arthropathies predominantly managed in the primary care setting. Gout is a red flag indicator for cardiovascular disease and comorbidity. Despite this, there are no incentivised treatment protocols and suboptimal management in the primary care setting is common. A computer based retrospective search at a large inner city GP practice between January 2014-December 2014 inclusive, identified 115 patients with gout. Baseline measurements revealed multiple gout related consultations, poor medication compliance, high uric acid levels and deficiencies in uric acid monitoring. A series of improvement cycles were conducted. A telephone questionnaire conducted in January 2015, identified that patient education was suboptimal. The following improvement cycles aimed to educate patients, improve uric acid monitoring and support medication compliance. It was ultimately hoped that these measures would reduce gout flares and GP practice attendance. The improvement cycles contributed towards reduction in uric acid levels from 0.37 to 0.3 (p=0.14), 20% reduction in patients experiencing one or more gout flares and 77% reduction in GP related consultations between March 2015-March 2016 compared to baseline. The proportion of patients fully compliant with taking their urate lowering therapies improved from 63% to 91% (p=0.0001). A follow up series of PDSA cycles were performed between July-December 2016. The purpose of these cycles was to assess the sustainability of the improved medication compliance demonstrated by the improvement cycles. Three months following the completion of the improvement cycles, full medication compliance dropped from 91% to 70% (p=0.0001). The introduction of a paper calendar saw sustained and maintained improvement in medication compliance to 100% (p=0.0001) at the end of the study period. The improvement and PDSA cycles have demonstrated that simple interventions can be a sustainable way of improving disease control and patient outcomes.

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