- About half of health care providers surveyed said they haven't had re-training in blood pressure measurement after leaving professional school.
- Nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, making accurate blood pressure measurement an important health care need for proper diagnosis and treatment.
- The American Medical Associaiton and American Heart Association have developed a 30-minute e-learning course to help providers refresh their skills.
With nearly half of U.S. adults living with high blood pressure, today, the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Heart Association (AHA) announced new survey results emphasizing the need for health care professionals to receive consistent and frequent re-training in measuring blood pressure (BP). While measuring BP is a common procedure, and BP guidelines recommend that health care providers receive periodic re-training, a recent AMA and AHA commissioned survey indicates that many medical professionals may not receive additional training or regular re-assessment of their BP measurement skills.
Of the more than 2,000 health care professionals surveyed, half of the physicians and physician assistants who responded said they had not received BP measurement re-training after their initial training in professional school. A third of nurse respondents and a quarter of medical assistants also said they had not received re-training. However, more than half of those surveyed said some form of standardized blood pressure measurement refresher should be required.
“Hypertension is a leading risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and preventable death in the U.S. Inaccurate blood pressure readings can lead to diagnosis errors, which means getting an accurate reading is vital to treating the condition,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “To support physicians and care teams, we will continue working with health care organizations on implementing quality improvement efforts that enhance the standard of care and safety for the patients they serve.”
To bridge the training gap, AMA and AHA developed a new e-learning module to provide health care professionals guideline-recommended training on proper BP measurement. Achieving Accuracy: BP Measurement, developed as part of the AMA and AHA’s Target: BP™ initiative, is the first step in the organizations’ joint efforts to ensure every health care professional is trained to accurately and consistently measure BP. The module is available on the AHA’s e-Learning platform and .
“Good blood-pressure control is foundational for preventing heart disease and strokes. An accurate blood pressure measurement is important to help clinicians gauge treatment decisions, and for patients to have confidence in their efforts to manage their health,” said AHA President Robert Harrington, M.D. “That’s why both the AMA and AHA strongly support refresher training for health care professionals as a critical component to providing the highest quality of care and patient safety.”
To ensure the new module meets the needs of health care professionals who regularly take their patient’s BP measurements, the AMA and AHA teamed with three leading health care organizations – (Illinois), , and as well as one of the nation’s largest retail clinics, to test its effectiveness. Each organization is currently looking at ways to implement a phased approach to conducting BP measurement skills assessments and re-training all members of their care team.
“At MinuteClinic, we have a long-standing commitment to advancing heart health and we know that early identification of patients with high blood pressure is essential in managing hypertension and preventing future complications,” said David Fairchild, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, MinuteClinic. “This research underscores the importance of ensuring that providers on the front lines have easy access to opportunities for standardized blood pressure measurement training and re-training in order to deliver high quality health care.”
Accurately measuring BP is a pillar of the , which stands for Measure Accurately, Act Rapidly and Partner with Patients. The MAP BP Program is core to the AMA and AHA’s joint national Target: BP™ initiative, which launched in the fall of 2016. To date, more than 1,600 physician practices and health systems nationwide have joined Target: BP, sharing a common goal to reduce the number of adult patients with uncontrolled BP and improve health outcomes associated with heart disease. More information about Target: BP, including a link to access the new BP measurement e-learning module, can be found at .