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Opioid related mortality rate has increased 200% over the past decade. Studies show variable emergency department (ED) opioid prescription practices and a correlation with increased long-term use. ED physicians may be contributing to this problem. Our objective was to analyze ED opioid prescription practices for patients with acute fractures.
We conducted a review of ED patients seen at two campuses of a tertiary care hospital. We evaluated a consecutive sample of patients with acute fractures (January 2016–April 2016) seen by ED physicians. Patients admitted or discharged by consultant services were excluded. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients discharged with an opioid prescription. Data were collected using screening lists, electronic records, and interobserver agreement. We calculated simple descriptive statistics and a multivariable analysis.
We enrolled 816 patients, including 441 females (54.0%). Most common fracture was wrist/hand (35.2%). 260 patients (31.8%) were discharged with an opioid; hydromorphone (N = 115, range 1–120 mg) was most common. 35 patients (4.3%) had pain related ED visits <1 month after discharge. Fractures of the lumbar spine (OR 10.78 [95% CI: 3.15–36.90]) and rib(s)/sternum/thoracic spine (OR 5.46 [95% CI: 2.88–10.35)] had a significantly higher likelihood of opioid prescriptions.
The majority of patients presenting to the ED with acute fractures were not discharged with an opioid. Hydromorphone was the most common opioid prescribed, with large variations in total dosage. Overall, there were few return to ED visits. We recommend standardization of ED opioid prescribing, with attention to limiting total dosage.
Acute heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are sometimes difficult to differentiate in the emergency department (ED). We sought to determine the clinical impact of point-of-care ultrasonography (POCUS) in ED patients with suspected acute heart failure or COPD.
We conducted a prospectively collected cohort study with health records review with frequency matching at The Ottawa Hospital between March and September 2017. We included patients aged 50 and older with shortness of breath or cough from suspected acute heart failure or COPD. Our primary outcome was ED length of stay. Secondary outcomes were time to disposition decision, time to appropriate treatment, and the incidence of adverse events. We analyzed time-to-event outcomes using Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox regression analysis with POCUS analyzed as a time-dependent variable, and the incidence of adverse events using logistic regression analyses.
There were 81 patients evaluated with lung POCUS and 243 matched patients who were not. Lung POCUS was not significantly associated with ED length of stay and time to disposition decision; however, patients evaluated with lung POCUS received disease-specific treatment faster compared with the non-POCUS group (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.50 [95% confidence interval, 1.05–2.15], a median time difference of 31 minutes). We found no significant differences in the incidence of adverse events.
In this study, use of lung POCUS resulted in no difference in ED length of stay and time to disposition decision, but was associated with faster administration of disease-specific treatments for elderly patients with suspected acute heart failure or COPD.
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