Quality improvement efforts have focused on reducing interstage mortality for infants with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). In 1/2016, two publications reported that use of digoxin was associated with reduced interstage mortality. The degree to which these findings have affected real world practice has not been evaluated. The discharge medications of neonates with HLHS undergoing Norwood operation between 1/2007 and 12/2018 at Pediatric Health Information Systems Database hospitals were studied. Mixed effects models were calculated to evaluate the hypothesis that the likelihood of digoxin prescription increased after 1/2016, adjusting for measurable confounders with furosemide and aspirin prescription measured as falsification tests. Interhospital practice variation was measured using the median odds ratio. Over the study period, 6091 subjects from 45 hospitals were included. After adjusting for measurable covariates, discharge after 1/2016 was associated with increased odds of receiving digoxin (OR 3.9, p < 0.001). No association was seen between date of discharge and furosemide (p = 0.26) or aspirin (p = 0.12). Prior to 1/2016, the likelihood of receiving digoxin was decreasing (OR 0.9 per year, p < 0.001), while after 1/2016 the rate has increased (OR 1.4 per year, p < 0.001). However, there remains significant interhospital variation in the likelihood of receiving digoxin even after adjusting for known confounders (median odds ratio = 3.5, p < 0.0001). Following publication of studies describing an association between digoxin and improved interstage survival, the likelihood of receiving digoxin at discharge increased without similar changes for furosemide or aspirin. Despite concerted efforts to standardize interstage care, interhospital variation in pharmacotherapy in this vulnerable population persists.
- Health services research
- Pediatric cardiology