Inpatient Outcomes Following a Return Visit to the Emergency Department: A Nationwide Cohort Study

Link to article at PubMed

West J Emerg Med. 2021 Aug 30;22(5):1124-1130. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2021.6.52212.


INTRODUCTION: Emergency department (ED) revisits are traditionally used to measure potential lapses in emergency care. However, recent studies on in-hospital outcomes following ED revisits have begun to challenge this notion. We aimed to examine inpatient outcomes and resource use among patients who were hospitalized following a return visit to the ED using a national database.

METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study using the National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan. One-third of ED visits from 2012-2013 were randomly selected and their subsequent hospitalizations included. We analyzed the inpatient outcomes (mortality and intensive care unit [ICU] admission) and resource use (length of stay [LOS] and costs). Comparisons were made between patients who were hospitalized after a return visit to the ED and those who were hospitalized during the index ED visit.

RESULTS: Of the 3,019,416 index ED visits, 477,326 patients (16%) were directly admitted to the hospital. Among the 2,504,972 patients who were discharged during the index ED visit, 229,059 (9.1%) returned to the ED within three days. Of them, 37,118 (16%) were hospitalized. In multivariable analyses, the inpatient mortality rates and hospital LOS were similar between the two groups. Compared with the direct-admission group, the return-admission group had a lower ICU admission rate (adjusted odds ratio, 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.72-0.84), and lower costs (adjusted difference, -5,198 New Taiwan dollars, 95% CI, -6,224 to -4,172).

CONCLUSION: Patients who were hospitalized after a return visit to the ED had a lower ICU admission rate and lower costs, compared to those who were directly admitted. Our findings suggest that ED revisits do not necessarily translate to poor initial care and that subsequent inpatient outcomes should also be considered for better assessment.

PMID:34546889 | DOI:10.5811/westjem.2021.6.52212

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