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Protocol to improve hypertension management in a VA outpatient clinic.

Gozdecki L, Kramer H, Thomas M, Gardezi K, Tarlov E, Hughes A, Stroupe K, O'Halloran M. Protocol to improve hypertension management in a VA outpatient clinic. Journal of Human Hypertension. 2023 Jan 1; 37(1):50-55.

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This 20-week quality improvement study describes implementation of a hypertension identification and management program with use of a standardized oscillometric blood pressure (BP) measurement protocol, provider education, and audit/feedback of hypertension control in a Veterans Affairs primary care clinic. A total of 692 male Veterans ages 18-85 years with treated hypertension and at least one clinic visit in the previous year were included for analysis. Mean age was 69.7 years (standard deviation 7.6) and race and ethnicity were 42.0% White, 29.1% Black and 3.0% Hispanic. Prior to program implementation, clinic BP was measured using the auscultatory method with a manual syphgmomanometer. Baseline BP measurements demonstrated bias as determined by terminal digit preference for digits 0 and 8 in 29.5% and 25.2% of systolic (SBP) and 31.6% and 21.8% of diastolic BP measurements, respectively (p? < 0.001). Post-implementation of the standardized oscillometric BP measurement protocol, digit preference was eliminated. Protocol compliance was 89.1% at 5 weeks and 92.4% at 20 weeks. Overall average SBP was significantly higher in the post-implementation period compared to average SBP in the 12-month pre-implementation period (137.4 [Standard Deviation (SD) 17.4] vs. 126.3 [SD 15.3]; P? < 0.001). Uncontrolled hypertension, (BP? = 140/90?mmHg), increased from 17.8% at baseline to 41.8% post-implementation while provider therapeutic inertia declined from 84.5% at baseline to 55.8% after 20 weeks. This study shows that terminal digit preference is reduced with implementation of standardized oscillatory BP measurement and a quality improvement program can reduce therapeutic inertia of hypertension treatment.

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