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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.
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.
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.
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