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Emergency department (ED) patients with atrial fibrillation or flutter (AFF) with underlying occult condition such as sepsis or heart failure, and who are managed with rate or rhythm control, have poor prognoses. Such conditions may not be easy to identify early in the ED evaluation when critical treatment decisions are made. We sought to develop a simple decision aid to quickly identify undifferentiated ED AFF patients who are at high risk of acute underlying illness.
We collected consecutive ED patients with electrocardiogram-proven AFF over a 1-year period and performed a chart review to ascertain demographics, comorbidities, and investigations. The primary outcome was having an acute underlying illness according to prespecified criteria. We used logistic regression to identify factors associated with the primary outcome, and developed criteria to identify those with an underlying illness at presentation.
Of 1,083 consecutive undifferentiated ED AFF patients, 400 (36.9%) had an acute underlying illness; they were older with more comorbidities. Modeling demonstrated that three predictors (ambulance arrival; chief complaint of chest pain, dyspnea, or weakness; CHA2DS2-VASc score greater than 2) identified 93% of patients with acute underlying illness (95% confidence interval [CI], 91–96%) with 54% (95% CI, 50–58%) specificity. The decision aid missed 28 patients; (7.0%) simple blood tests and chest radiography identified all within an hour of presentation.
In ED patients with undifferentiated AFF, this simple predictive model rapidly differentiates patients at risk of acute underlying illness, who will likely merit investigations before AFF-specific therapy.
Atrial fibrillation or flutter (AFF) patients with renal impairment have poor long-term prognosis, but their emergency department (ED) management has not been described. We investigated the association of renal impairment upon outcomes after rate or rhythm control (RRC) including ED-based adverse events (AE) and treatment failure.
This cohort study used an electrocardiogram database from two urban centres to identify consecutive AFF patients and reviewed charts to obtain comorbidities, ED management, including RRC, prespecified AE, and treatment failure. Patients were dichotomized into a normal estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) > 60 mL/min/1.73 m2) or impaired renal function (“low eGFR”). Primary and secondary outcomes were prespecified AEs and treatment failure, respectively. We calculated 1) adjusted excess AE risk for patients with decreased renal function receiving RRC; and 2) adjusted odds ratio of RRC treatment failure.
Of 1,112 consecutive ED AFF patients, 412 (37.0%) had a low eGFR. Crude AE rates for RRC were 27/238 (11.3%) for patients with normal renal function and 26/103 (25.2%) for patients with low eGFR. For patients with low eGFR receiving RRC, adjusted excess AE risk was 13.7%. (95% CI 1.7 to 25.1%). For patients with low eGFR, adjusted odds ratio for RRC failure was 3.07. (95% CI 1.74 to 5.43)
In this cohort of ED AFF patients receiving RRC, those with low eGFR had significantly increased adjusted excess risk of AE compared with patients with normal renal function. Odds of treatment failure were also significantly increased.
Take-home naloxone (THN) reduces deaths from opioid overdose. To increase THN distribution to at-risk emergency department (ED) patients, we explored reasons for patients’ refusing or accepting THN.
In an urban teaching hospital ED, we identified high opioid overdose risk patients according to pre-specified criteria. We offered eligible patients THN and participation in researcher-administered surveys, which inquired about reasons to refuse or accept THN and about THN dispensing location preferences. We analyzed refusal and acceptance reasons in open-ended responses, grouped reasons into categories (absolute versus conditional refusals,) then searched for associations between patient characteristics and reasons.
Of 247 patients offered THN, 193 (78.1%) provided reasons for their decision. Of those included, 69 (35.2%) were female, 91 (47.2%) were under age 40, 61 (31.6%) were homeless, 144 (74.6%) reported injection drug use (IDU), and 131 (67.9%) accepted THN. Of 62 patients refusing THN, 19 (30.7%) felt “not at risk” for overdose, while 28 (45.2%) gave conditional refusal reasons: “too sick,” “in a rush,” or preference to get THN elsewhere. Non-IDU was associated with stating “not at risk,” while IDU, homelessness, and age under 40 were associated with conditional refusals. Among acceptances, 86 (65.7%) mentioned saving others as a reason. Most respondents preferred other dispensing locations beside the ED, whether or not they accepted ED THN.
ED patients refusing THN felt “not at risk” for overdose or felt their ED visit was not the right time or place for THN. Most accepting THN wanted to save others.
Fee-for-service payment may motivate physicians to see more patients and achieve higher productivity. In 2015, emergency physicians at one Vancouver hospital switched to fee-for-service payment, while those at a sister hospital remained on contract, creating a natural experiment where the compensation method changed, but other factors remained constant. Our hypothesis was that fee-for-service payment would increase physician efficiency and reduce patient wait times.
This interrupted time series with concurrent control analysed emergency department (ED) performance during a 42-week period, encompassing the intervention (fee for service). Data were aggregated by week and plotted in a time series fashion. We adjusted for autocorrelation and developed general linear regression models to assess level and trend changes. Our primary outcome was the wait time to physician.
Data from 142,361 ED visits were analysed. Baseline wait times rose at both sites during the pre-intervention phase. Immediately post-intervention, the median wait time increased by 2.4 minutes at the control site and fell by 7.2 minutes at the intervention site (difference=9.6 minutes; 95% confidence interval, 2.9-16.4; p=0.007). The wait time trend (slope) subsequently deteriorated by 0.5 minutes per week at the intervention site relative to the expected counterfactual (p for the trend difference=0.07). By the end of the study, cross-site differences had not changed significantly from baseline.
Fee-for-service payment was associated with a 9.6-minute (24%) reduction in wait time, compatible with an extrinsic motivational effect; however, this was not sustained, and the intervention had no impact on other operational parameters studied. Physician compensation is an important policy issue but may not be a primary determinant of ED operational efficiency.
An evidence-based emergency department (ED) atrial fibrillation and flutter (AFF) pathway was developed to improve care. The primary objective was to measure rates of new anticoagulation (AC) on ED discharge for AFF patients who were not AC correctly upon presentation.
This is a pre-post evaluation from April to December 2013 measuring the impact of our pathway on rates of new AC and other performance measures in patients with uncomplicated AFF solely managed by emergency physicians. A standardized chart review identified demographics, comorbidities, and ED treatments. The primary outcome was the rate of new AC. Secondary outcomes were ED length of stay (LOS), referrals to AFF clinic, ED revisit rates, and 30-day rates of return visits for congestive heart failure (CHF), stroke, major bleeding, and death.
ED AFF patients totalling 301 (129 pre-pathway [PRE]; 172 post-pathway [POST]) were included; baseline demographics were similar between groups. The rates of AC at ED presentation were 18.6% (PRE) and 19.7% (POST). The rates of new AC on ED discharge were 48.6 % PRE (95% confidence interval [CI] 42.1%-55.1%) and 70.2% POST (62.1%-78.3%) (20.6% [p<0.01; 15.1-26.3]). Median ED LOS decreased from 262 to 218 minutes (44 minutes [p<0.03; 36.2-51.8]). Thirty-day rates of ED revisits for CHF decreased from 13.2% to 2.3% (10.9%; p<0.01; 8.1%-13.7%), and rates of other measures were similar.
The evidence-based pathway led to an improvement in the rate of patients with new AC upon discharge, a reduction in ED LOS, and decreased revisit rates for CHF.
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation within CPR (ECPR) may improve survival for refractory out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). We developed a prehospital, emergency department (ED), and hospital-based clinical and educational protocol to improve the key variable of time-to-ECPR (TTE).
In a single urban health region we involved key prehospital, clinical, and administrative stakeholders over a 2-year period, to develop a regional ECPR program with destination to a single urban tertiary care hospital. We developed clear and reproducible inclusion criteria and processes, including measures of program efficiency. We conducted seminars and teaching modules to paramedics and hospital-based clinicians including monthly simulator sessions, and performed detailed reviews of each treated case in the form of report cards. In this before-and-after study we compared patients with ECPR attempted prior to, and after, protocol implementation. The primary outcome was TTE, defined as the time of initial professional CPR to establishment of extracorporeal circulation. We compared the median TTE for patients in the two groups using the Wilcoxon signed rank test.
Four patients were identified prior to the protocol and managed in an ad hoc basis; for nine patients the protocol was utilized. Overall favourable neurological outcomes among ECPR-treated patients were 27%. The median TTE was 136 minutes (IQR 98 - 196) in the pre-protocol group, and 60 minutes (IQR 49 - 81) minutes in the protocol group (p=0.0165).
An organized clinical and educational protocol to initiate ECPR for patients with OHCA is feasible and significantly reduces the key benchmark of time-to-ECPR flows.
Extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR), while resource-intensive, may improve outcomes in selected patients with refractory out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). We sought to identify patients who fulfilled a set of ECPR criteria in order to estimate: (1) the proportion of patients with refractory cardiac arrest who may have benefited from ECPR; and (2) the outcomes achieved with conventional resuscitation.
We performed a secondary analysis from a 52-month prospective registry of consecutive adult non-traumatic OHCA cases from a single urban Canadian health region serving one million patients. We developed a hypothetical ECPR-eligible cohort including adult patients <60 years of age with a witnessed OHCA, and either bystander CPR or EMS arrival within five minutes. The primary outcome was the proportion of ECPR-eligible patients who had refractory cardiac arrest, defined as termination of resuscitation pre-hospital or in the ED. The secondary outcome was the proportion of EPCR-eligible patients who survived to hospital discharge.
Of 1,644 EMS-treated OHCA, 168 (10.2%) fulfilled our ECPR criteria. Overall, 54/1644 (3.3%; 95% CI 2.4%-4.1%) who were ECPR-eligible had refractory cardiac arrest. Of ECPR-eligible patients, 114/168 (68%, 95% CI 61%-75%) survived to hospital admission, and 70/168 (42%; 95% CI 34-49%) survived to hospital discharge.
In our region, approximately 10% of EMS-treated cases of OHCA fulfilled our ECPR criteria, and approximately one-third of these (an average of 12 patients per year) were refractory to conventional resuscitation. The integration of an ECPR program into an existing high-performing system of care may have a small but clinically important effect on patient outcomes.
Current guidelines emphasize that emergency department (ED) patients at low risk for potential ischemic chest pain cannot be discharged without extensive investigations or hospitalization to minimize the risk of missing acute coronary syndrome (ACS). We sought to derive and validate a prediction rule that permitted 20 to 30% of ED patients without ACS safely to be discharged within 2 hours without
further provocative cardiac testing.
This prospective cohort study enrolled 1,669 chest pain patients in two blocks in 2000–2003 (development cohort) and 2006 (validation cohort). The primary outcome was 30-day ACS diagnosis. A recursive partitioning model incorporated reliable and predictive cardiac risk factors, pain characteristics, electrocardiographic findings, and cardiac biomarker results.
In the derivation cohort, 165 of 763 patients (21.6%) had a 30-day ACS diagnosis. The derived prediction rule was 100.0% sensitive and 18.6% specific. In the validation cohort, 119 of 906 patients (13.1%) had ACS, and the prediction rule was 99.2% sensitive (95% CI 95.4–100.0) and 23.4% specific (95% CI 20.6–26.5). Patients have a very low ACS risk if arrival and 2-hour troponin levels are normal, the initial electrocardiogram is nonischemic, there is no history of ACS or nitrate use, age is < 50 years, and defined pain characteristics are met. The validation of the rule was limited by the lack of consistency in data capture, incomplete follow-up, and lack of evaluation of the accuracy, comfort, and clinical sensibility of this clinical decision rule.
The Vancouver Chest Pain Rule may identify a cohort of ED chest pain patients who can be safely
discharged within 2 hours without provocative cardiac testing. Further validation across other centres with consistent application and comprehensive and uniform follow-up of all eligible and enrolled patients, in addition to measuring and reporting the accuracy of and comfort level with applying the rule and the clinical sensibility, should be completed prior to adoption and implementation.
Cardiac troponin elevation portends a worse prognosis in diverse patient populations. The significance of troponin elevation in patients discharged from emergency departments (EDs)without inpatient admission is notwell known.
Patients without a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome discharged fromtwo EDs between April 1, 2006, and December 31, 2007, with an abnormal cardiac troponin (troponin positive [TP]) were compared to a troponin-negative (TN) cohort matched for age, sex, and primary discharge diagnosis. Outcomes were obtained by linking with a regional ED and a provincial vital statistics database and adjusted for the following: estimated glomerular filtration rate, do-not-resuscitate status, history of coronary artery disease, Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale, and left ventricular hypertrophy on electrocardiography. The primary outcome was a composite of death or admission to hospital within 1 year.
Our total cohort (n 5 344) consisted of 172 TP and 172 TN patients. In the univariate analysis, TP patients had a higher rate of the primary outcome (OR 3.2, 95% CI 2.1–5.0, p < 0.001) and both of its components (p < 0.001). After adjusting for covariates, positive troponin remained an independent predictor of the primary outcome (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.3–3.4, p 5 0.005) and inpatient admission (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.2–3.4, p 5 0.006). There was no significant difference in death (OR 1.3, 95% CI 0.6–2.9, p 5 0.5) after adjustment.
A positive troponin assay during ED stay in discharged patients is an independent marker for risk of subsequent admission. Our findings suggest that the prognostic power of an abnormal troponin extends to patients discharged from the ED.
Injection drug users (IDUs) often undergo procedural sedation and analgesia (PSA) as part of emergency department (ED) treatment. We compared adverse events (AEs) using a variety of sedation regimens.
This was a retrospective analysis of a PSA safety audit in two urban EDs. Consecutive self-reported IDUs were identified, and structured data describing comorbidities, vital signs, sedation regimens (propofol [P], propofol-fentanyl [PF], fentanyl-midazolam [FM], ketofol [1:1 ketamine:propofol, KF], and ketamine-propofol [KP]) and AEs were collected. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients in each sedation group having an AE; the secondary outcome was the proportion of patients having a cardiovascular or respiratory AE.
Data were collected on 276 IDUs (78 P, 82 PF, 65 FM, 25 KF, and 26 KP), and 18 patients had AEs (6.5%, 95% CI 4.0–10.3). The AE rates were 0.0%, 8.5%, 9.2%, 12.0%, and 7.6%, respectively, with propofol having a significantly lower rate (Pearson coefficient 14.9, p = 0.007). The cardiovascular/respiratory AE rates were significantly different as well, with P, KP, and KF having the lowest rates (Pearson coefficient 13.3, p = 0.01).
For IDU PSA, the overall AE rate was 6.5%, and propofol appeared to have a significantly lower rate.
Injection drug users (IDUs) often undergo procedural sedation and analgesia (PSA) in the emergency department (ED). We compared adverse events (AEs) for IDUs to those for non-IDUs receiving PSA for incision and drainage of cutaneous abscesses.
This was a retrospective analysis of a PSA safety audit. IDU status was prospectively documented among consecutive patients undergoing PSA at two urban EDs. Structured data describing comorbidities, vital signs, sedation regimens, and adverse events were collected. Primary outcome was the proportion of patients in each group experiencing an AE, whereas the secondary outcomes included recovery times.
Of 525 consecutive patients receiving PSA for incision and drainage of an abscess, 244 were deemed IDUs and 281 non-IDUs. IDUs received higher doses of sedatives and analgesics, and 14 experienced AEs (5.7%), whereas 10 non-IDUs had AEs (3.6%), for a risk difference of 2.1% (95% CI -1.8, 6.5). Median recovery times were 18 minutes (interquartile range [IQR] 10-36) for IDUs and 12 minutes (IQR 7-19) for non-IDUs, for a difference of 6 minutes (95% CI 2-9 minutes). Median sedation times were also longer in IDUs, for a difference of 6 minutes (95% CI 5-10 minutes). Of 20 IDU patients and 1 non-IDU patient admitted to hospital, none had experienced an AE related to PSA.
For ED patients requiring PSA for incision and drainage, IDUs had an AE rate similar to that of non-IDUs but longer sedation and recovery times. In experienced hands, PSA may be as safe in IDUs as in patients who do not use injection drugs.
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