Background This study was conducted to test the hypothesis that internal medicine residents at a northeast Tennessee university clinic were not compliant with the latest National Cholesterol Educational Program Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP-ATP) guidelines in treating hyperlipidemia in patients with diabetes and coronary artery disease.
Methods A retrospective medical record survey was conducted to evaluate residents' pattern in lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol to below 100 mg/dL in patients with diabetes and coronary artery disease. The survey covered a 5-year period, from July 1998 to June 2003, and included 15 randomly chosen residents who were in training for 3 consecutive years. Charts were randomly selected from residents' clinics using International Classification of Diseases-9 codes for coronary artery disease or diabetes mellitus with hyperlipidemia. Five hundred fifty charts were reviewed. Only 41 (7.45%) met the inclusion criteria.
Results Analysis of data using Epi-Info 2002 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA) revealed that only 68.3% of patients with diabetes and coronary artery disease reached target LDL cholesterol levels. Of the patients who reached target levels, only 42.9% maintained them. Analysis of variance and chi-square tests revealed that the frequency of cholesterol measurement, but not the frequency of physicians' visits, was associated with a higher likelihood of reaching the target LDL level.
Conclusion There was a suboptimal compliance among internal medicine residents in the frequency of screening for, reaching, and maintaining the target LDL cholesterol level, according to the latest NCEP-ATP guidelines, among high-risk patients with hyperlipidemias.