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MP12: Acute asthma presentations to emergency departments in Alberta: an epidemiological analysis of presentations

  • C. Alexiu (a1), L. Krebs (a1), C. Villa-Roel (a1), B.R. Holroyd (a1), M. Ospina (a1), C. Pryce (a1), J. Bakal (a1), S.E. Jelinski (a1), G. Innes (a1), E. Lang (a1) and B.H. Rowe (a1)...

Abstract

Introduction: Asthma is a chronic condition and exacerbations are a common reason for emergency department (ED) presentations across Canada. The objective of this study was to characterize and describe acute asthma presentations over a five-year period. Methods: Administrative health data for Alberta from 2011-2015 was obtained from the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS) for all adult (>17 years) acute asthma (ICD-10-CA: J45) ED presentations. All presentations to an Alberta ED with a primary or secondary diagnosis of acute asthma were eligible for inclusion. Presentations with a Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) score of 1 were excluded. Data from NACRS were linked with a provincial diagnostic imaging database. Data are reported as means and standard deviation (SD), medians and interquartile range (IQR) or proportions, as appropriate. Results: From 2011-2015, a total of 51,269 (~10,000/year) acute asthma presentations were made by 34,481 patients (~0.3 presentations per patient per year). The median age was 35 years (IQR: 25, 49 years) and more patients were female (57.2%). Few patients arrived to the ED by ambulance (6.5%) and the most frequent CTAS score was 3 (43.5%). The majority of these patients (77%) had a primary diagnosis of asthma in the ED. Differences were explored between those with a primary asthma diagnosis and those with a secondary diagnosis (e.g., ambulance arrival, length of stay, hospital admission, etc.). Although differences were statistically significant, no clinically relevant differences were identified. Patients with asthma most frequently had a co-diagnosis of acute upper respiratory infection (6.2%); other co-diagnoses included bronchitis (4.7%), pneumonia (3.7%), heart failure (0.18%), pulmonary embolism (0.15%), and pneumothorax (0.03%). For 39.3% of patients, ED management included chest x-ray. The majority of patients were discharged from the ED (92.2%) following a median length of stay of 2.2 hours (IQR: 1.2, 3.8 hours). Conclusion: Acute asthma remains an important ED presentation in Alberta and the absolute frequency of presentations has remained relatively stable over the past five years. Frequency of chest x-ray ordering is high and represents a target for future interventions to reduce ionizing radiation exposure, improve patient flow and reduce healthcare costs.

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