Items in AFP with MESH term: Ambulatory Care
Newsletter - AAFP News Now: AFP Edition
Improving Outpatient Referrals to Secondary Care - Cochrane for Clinicians
Outpatient vs. Inpatient Treatment of Community-Acquired Pneumonia - Point-of-Care Guides
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome - Article
ABSTRACT: The spectrum of alcohol withdrawal symptoms ranges from such minor symptoms as insomnia and tremulousness to severe complications such as withdrawal seizures and delirium tremens. Although the history and physical examination usually are sufficient to diagnose alcohol withdrawal syndrome, other conditions may present with similar symptoms. Most patients undergoing alcohol withdrawal can be treated safely and effectively as outpatients. Pharmacologic treatment involves the use of medications that are cross-tolerant with alcohol. Benzodiazepines, the agents of choice, may be administered on a fixed or symptom-triggered schedule. Carbamazepine is an appropriate alternative to a benzodiazepine in the outpatient treatment of patients with mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Medications such as haloperidol, beta blockers, clonidine, and phenytoin may be used as adjuncts to a benzodiazepine in the treatment of complications of withdrawal. Treatment of alcohol withdrawal should be followed by treatment for alcohol dependence.
ABSTRACT: Optimal outpatient treatment of systolic heart failure has three goals that should be pursued simultaneously: (1) control of risk factors for the development and progression of heart failure, (2) treatment of heart failure, and (3) education of patients. Control of risk factors includes treating hypertension, diabetes, and coronary artery disease, and eliminating the use of alcohol and tobacco. All patients with heart failure should be taking an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor or angiotensin-receptor blocker. In the absence of contraindications, an ACE inhibitor is preferred. In most patients, physicians should consider adding a beta blocker to ACE-inhibitor therapy. In patients with severe heart failure, spironolactone is a useful addition to baseline drug therapy, as is carvedilol (substitute carvedilol if patient is already taking a beta blocker). Patients with stable heart failure should be encouraged to begin and maintain a regular aerobic exercise program. Digoxin therapy may reduce the likelihood of hospitalization but does not reduce mortality. It must be monitored closely, with a target dosage level of 0.5 to 1.1 ng per mL. Symptoms may be controlled with the use of diuretics and restricted dietary sodium. Finally, patient education, with the patient's active participation in the care, is a key strategy in the management of heart failure. Periodic follow-up between scheduled office visits, which is essential in the long-term management of heart failure, may include telephone calls from the office nurse, maintenance of a daily symptom and weight diary, and participation in a disease-management program.
ABSTRACT: Detoxification from alcohol can be undertaken in ambulatory settings with patients who are alcohol-dependent and show signs of mild to moderate withdrawal when they are not drinking. An appropriate candidate for outpatient detoxification should have arrangements to start an alcohol treatment program and a responsible support person who can monitor progress, and should not have significant, acute, comorbid conditions or risk factors for severe withdrawal. Long-acting benzodiazepines, the preferred medications for alcohol detoxification, can be given on a fixed schedule or through "front-loading" or "symptom-triggered" regimens. Adjuvant sympatholytics can be used to treat hyperadrenergic symptoms that persist despite adequate sedation. Progress can be monitored with the use of a standard withdrawal-assessment scale and daily physician contact. Detoxification is not a stand-alone treatment but should serve as a bridge to a formal treatment program for alcohol dependence.
ABSTRACT: There are approximately 250,000 cases of acute pyelonephritis each year, resulting in more than 100,000 hospitalizations. The most common etiologic cause is infection with Escherichia coli. The combination of the leukocyte esterase test and the nitrite test (with either test proving positive) has a sensitivity of 75 to 84 percent and a specificity of 82 to 98 percent for urinary tract infection. Urine cultures are positive in 90 percent of patients with acute pyelonephritis, and cultures should be obtained before antibiotic therapy is initiated. The use of blood cultures should be reserved for patients with an uncertain diagnosis, those who are immunocompromised, and those who are suspected of having hematogenous infections. Outpatient oral antibiotic therapy with a fluoroquinolone is successful in most patients with mild uncomplicated pyelonephritis. Other effective alternatives include extended-spectrum penicillins, amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium, cephalosporins, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Indications for inpatient treatment include complicated infections, sepsis, persistent vomiting, failed outpatient treatment, or extremes of age. In hospitalized patients, intravenous treatment is recommended with a fluoroquinolone, aminoglycoside with or without ampicillin, or a third-generation cephalosporin. The standard duration of therapy is seven to 14 days. Urine culture should be repeated one to two weeks after completion of antibiotic therapy. Treatment failure may be caused by resistant organisms, underlying anatomic/functional abnormalities, or immunosuppressed states. Lack of response should prompt repeat blood and urine cultures and, possibly, imaging studies. A change in antibiotics or surgical intervention may be required.
Diagnosing the Cause of Chest Pain - Article
ABSTRACT: Chest pain presents a diagnostic challenge in outpatient family medicine. Noncardiac causes are common, but it is important not to overlook serious conditions such as an acute coronary syndrome, pulmonary embolism, or pneumonia. In addition to a thorough history and physical examination, most patients should have a chest radiograph and an electrocardiogram. Patients with chest pain that is predictably exertional, with electrocardiogram abnormalities, or with cardiac risk factors should be evaluated further with measurement of troponin levels and cardiac stress testing. Risk of pulmonary embolism can be determined with a simple prediction rule, and a D-dimer assay can help determine whether further evaluation with helical computed tomography or venous ultrasound is needed. Fever, egophony, and dullness to percussion suggest pneumonia, which can be confirmed with chest radiograph. Although some patients with chest pain have heart failure, this is unlikely in the absence of dyspnea; a brain natriuretic peptide level measurement can clarify the diagnosis. Pain reproducible by palpation is more likely to be musculoskeletal than ischemic. Chest pain also may be associated with panic disorder, for which patients can be screened with a two-item questionnaire. Clinical prediction rules can help clarify many of these diagnoses.
ABSTRACT: Legislation has enabled physicians to treat opioid-dependent patients with an office-based maintenance program using buprenorphine, a partial mu-opioid receptor agonist. Clinical studies indicate buprenorphine effectively manages opioid addiction. Buprenorphine is more effective than placebo for managing opioid addiction but may not be superior to methadone if high doses are needed. It is comparable to lower doses of methadone, however. Treatment phases include induction, stabilization, and maintenance. Buprenorphine therapy should be initiated at the onset of withdrawal symptoms and adjusted to address withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Advantages of buprenorphine include low abuse potential and high availability for office use. Disadvantages include high cost and possible lack of effectiveness in patients who require high methadone doses. Most family physicians are required to complete eight hours of training before they can prescribe buprenorphine for opioid addiction.
ABSTRACT: The Seventh American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) Conference on Antithrombotic and Thrombolytic Therapy provides guidelines for outpatient management of anticoagulation therapy. The ACCP guidelines recommend short-term warfarin therapy, with the goal of maintaining an International Normalized Ratio (INR) of 2.5 +/- 0.5, after major orthopedic surgery. Therapy for venous thromboembolism includes an INR of 2.5 +/- 0.5, with the length of therapy determined by associated conditions. For patients with atrial fibrillation, the INR is maintained at 2.5 +/- 0.5 indefinitely; for most patients with mechanical valves, the recommended INR is 3.0 +/- 0.5 indefinitely. Use of outpatient low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) is as safe and effective as inpatient unfractionated heparin for treatment of venous thromboembolism. The ACCP recommends starting warfarin with unfractionated heparin or LMWH for at least five days and continuing until a therapeutic INR is achieved. Because patients with venous thromboembolism and cancer who have been treated with LMWH have a survival advantage that extends beyond their venous thromboembolism treatment, the ACCP recommends beginning their therapy with three to six months of LMWH. When invasive procedures require the interruption of oral anticoagulation therapy, recommendations for bridge therapy are determined by balancing the risk of bleeding against the risk of thromboembolism. Patients at higher risk of thromboembolization should stop warfarin therapy four to five days before surgery and start LMWH or unfractionated heparin two to three days before surgery.