To evaluate physician practices in managing patients with parapneumonic effusions and the impact of practice patterns on clinical outcome.
Private, tertiary care medical center.
Thirty-nine hospitalized patients with complicated parapneumonic effusions and a separate group of 191 patients admitted with community-acquired pneumonia.
Main Outcome Measures:
Evaluation of physician practice patterns in managing complicated parapneumonic effusion and the impact of delaying thoracentesis (≥2 days after pleural fluid detection) or pleural drainage (≥2 days after pleural fluid criteria for drainage fulfilled) on duration of hospitalization, cost of hospitalization, and need for thoracotomy.
Thirty-eight of the 39 patients with complicated parapneumonic effusions underwent thoracentesis that was "delayed" (5.7±3.1 days) in 16 patients. Delays in thoracentesis were associated with longer hospitalizations (P=.02). Laboratory tests ordered on nonpurulent pleural fluid were incomplete for 16 of 38 patients. Chest tube or surgical pleural drainage was delayed (4.2±3.5 days) in 10 of 38 patients who underwent thoracentesis. Delays in initiating drainage were associated with prolonged hospitalization (P=.04). Delaying interventions accounted for a mean cost increment per patient of $8462 for delayed thoracentesis and $9332 for delayed drainage. Of the 191 patients with community-acquired pneumonia, 99 (52%) had pleural effusions but only 15 (15%) underwent thoracentesis.
Physicians commonly delay thoracentesis and chest tube drainage to observe parapneumonic effusions for improvement. This practice pattern is associated with longer and more costly hospitalizations.(Arch Surg. 1995;130:433-438)
Heffner JE, McDonald J, Barbieri C, Klein J. Management of Parapneumonic EffusionsAn Analysis of Physician Practice Patterns. Arch Surg. 1995;130(4):433-438. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1995.01430040095021