Introduction: Acute chest syndrome is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in patients with sickle cell disease. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends providing ten breaths of incentive spirometry (IS) every two hours while awake for patients with sickle cell disease admitted to the hospital to help prevent development of acute chest syndrome.

Methods: We reviewed provision of IS at Children's Mercy Hospital (CMH) in Kansas City, Missouri between 08/01/2021 and 11/01/2021. Data were collected and the target population was identified via a report generated from the electronic medical records of those patients admitted with sickle cell disease and vaso-occlusive pain requiring continuous opioid infusion. We reviewed the frequency with which IS was offered each hospital day and found that during that 3-month time period, no patients were offered IS at the frequency recommended by the NHLBI. Meetings with stakeholders identified that IS orders were inconsistent between electronic medical record order sets and were not based on current NHLBI recommendations. To address this potential root cause, order sets were updated to match NHLBI recommendations. We then reviewed provision of IS following implementation of standardized IS orders between 12/21/2021 and 3/14/2022. Our primary aim with our initial plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycle was to increase the frequency IS was being offered to patients to meet NHLBI guidelines.

Results: Between 08/01/2021 and 11/01/2021, there were 285 hospital days with patients admitted to CMH with a sickle cell vaso-occlusive pain. We excluded days of admission and discharge (94 days). Of 191 full hospital days, only 53% (101/191) had IS documented at all. When IS was documented, 0% of patients were offered the recommended frequency of IS and the median time between IS offerings was 6.3 hours. Following implementation of updated orders on 12/21/2021 IS was offered to patients at the recommended frequency 1% of the time, and the median hours between when IS was offered decreased to 5.9 hours.

Conclusion: The initial goal of this project was to increase the daily occurrences of IS offered to sickle cell patients admitted to the hospital with vaso-occlusive pain to meet the NHLBI recommended frequency from 0% to 10% over a 3-month period following the implementation of updated IS orders within Cerner powerplans. Further PDSA cycles will continue to refine our approach to increasing frequency IS is offered to the patient and documented in the medical record. Subsequent PDSA cycles will also focus on increasing patient use of IS as well as analyzing supplemental oxygen use before and after each intervention as a patient outcome measure.

No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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