J Am Coll Emerg Physicians Open. 2021 Oct 2;2(5):e12576. doi: 10.1002/emp2.12576. eCollection 2021 Oct.
OBJECTIVES: National data reveal that 60% of the 4.5 million annual emergency department (ED) visits by patients with cancer result in admission. Many of these visits are due to a febrile illness. Current literature provides limited guidance on how to treat non-neutropenic febrile ED patients. This study characterizes clinical outcomes of non-neutropenic febrile patients with cancer presenting to an academic, Comprehensive Cancer Center affiliated ED.
METHODS: Retrospective chart review of 101 randomly selected adult patients with active cancer presenting with a chief complaint of fever or a documented fever in the ED and an absolute neutrophil count above 1000 between October 2015 and September 2016. Descriptive statistics were calculated.
RESULTS: The primary malignancies represented were hematologic (24%), gastrointestinal (13%), head and neck (13%), and genitourinary (8%). Sixty-two percent were on chemotherapy, 15% on radiation therapy, and 12% were on targeted therapy. Severe illness outcomes occurred in 39% and 83% were admitted with a median length of stay of 4 days. Among admitted patients, 24% experienced a length of stay ≤2 days. A return visit to the ED or an in-system hospitalization within 7 days of the index visit occurred in 10% and death occurred within 7 days of the index visit in 4%.
CONCLUSION: A majority of patients presenting to the ED with non-neutropenic fever are admitted (83%), of whom nearly a quarter experience a length of stay of ≤2 days with infrequent serious illness outcomes. Future efforts should focus on the development of risk stratification tools in this population to avoid potentially unnecessary hospitalizations.