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This chapter deals with critical issues in observation medicine for adult patients based on a given diagnosis or clinical condition, such as chest pain or asthma. A separate chapter deals with critical issues in observation medicine based on age, for example, observation medicine for pediatric and geriatric patients. The critical questions addressed in this chapter are:
1: In adult patients, when compared with inpatient treatment does the provision of observation services, specifically in a dedicated, protocol-driven observation unit (OU), improve patient outcomes, decrease length of stay (LOS), reduce costs, increase patient satisfaction, and have other benefits, including (but not limited to) decreased readmissions?
2: In adult patients, does the use of OU clinical and administrative methodology (by aggressive early diagnostic and therapeutic management using tools such as protocol-driven therapy) produce equivalent or better results (e.g., patient outcomes, LOS, costs, and adverse events) compared with routine inpatient care?
3: In the adult emergency department (ED), does use of an OU improve key measures of department efficiency, such as decreases in ED LOS, door-to-doctor time, ambulance diversion, and the left-without-being-seen rate?