J Gen Intern Med. 2021 May 14. doi: 10.1007/s11606-021-06841-2. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Chest pain is the top reason for hospitalization/observation in the USA, but it is unclear if this strategy improves patient outcomes.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to compare 30-day outcomes for patients admitted versus discharged after a negative emergency department (ED) evaluation for suspected acute coronary syndrome.
DESIGN: A retrospective, multi-site, cohort study of adult encounters with chest pain presenting to one of 13 Kaiser Permanente Southern California EDs between January 1, 2015, and December 1, 2017. Instrumental variable analysis was used to mitigate potential confounding by unobserved factors.
PATIENTS: All adult patients presenting to an ED with chest pain, in whom an acute myocardial infarction was not diagnosed in the ED, were included.
MAIN MEASURES: The primary outcome was 30-day acute myocardial infarction or all-cause mortality, and secondary outcomes included 30-day revascularization and major adverse cardiac events.
KEY RESULTS: In total, 77,652 patient encounters were included in the study (n=11,026 admitted, 14.2%). Three hundred twenty-two (0.4%) had an acute myocardial infarction (n=193, 0.2%) or death (n=137, 0.2%) within 30 days of ED visit (1.5% hospitalized versus 0.2% discharged). Very few (0.3%) patients underwent coronary revascularization within 30 days (0.7% hospitalized versus 0.2% discharged). Instrumental variable analysis found no adjusted differences in 30-day patient outcomes between the hospitalized cohort and those discharged (risk reduction 0.002, 95% CI -0.002 to 0.007). Similarly, there were no differences in coronary revascularization (risk reduction 0.003, 95% CI -0.002 to 0.007).
CONCLUSION: Among ED patients with chest pain not diagnosed with an acute myocardial infarction, risk of major adverse cardiac events is quite low, and there does not appear to be any benefit in 30-day outcomes for those admitted or observed in the hospital compared to those discharged with outpatient follow-up.