Am J Emerg Med. 2022 Feb 6;54:249-252. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2022.02.005. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: Freestanding Emergency Departments (FEDs) have grown in number and understanding their impact on the healthcare system is important. Sepsis causes significant morbidity and mortality and identifying how FEDs impact sepsis morbidity and mortality has not been studied. The objective of this study was to determine if there is a difference in in-hospital mortality for sepsis patients who present initially to FEDs compared to a hospital-based ED.
METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort of adult patients seen at a hospital-based ED or one of three FEDs within a large hospital system from 1/1/2018-10/31/2020. We included those who were diagnosed with sepsis, severe sepsis or septic shock and evaluated ED throughput measures, in-hospital mortality, and hospital length of stay. Categorical variables are presented as frequencies and percentages. Continuous variables are presented as mean and standard deviations or median and quartiles depending on distribution. Multiple logistic regression was fit to compare in-hospital mortality rates between the two groups. Variables controlled for included Charlson Comorbidity Index, race, gender, insurance, and sepsis severity. Wilcoxon rank sum tests were used to compare the time metrics.
RESULTS: There were 1955 patients included in the study. Mean age of participants was 61.9 at the FEDs vs 63.7 at the HBED. Majority of the participants were white; 88.2% at the FED vs. 77.3% at the HBED; and male 49.0% at the FED vs. 51.1% at the HBED. Most patients had Medicare; 45.4% at the FED vs. 58.3% at the HBED. In-patient mortality rate was significantly lower for patients that presented to FEDs compared to HBED (95%CI 0.13-0.46) adjusted odds ratio 0.24. Time to IV fluids, time to lactate, time to blood cultures, time to ED disposition, ED LOS, time to arrival on the inpatient unit were all significantly lower for FEDs vs HBED (p < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Patients presenting to FEDs for sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock had lower inpatient mortality, quicker treatment times, and were transferred and admitted to the hospital faster than patients seen at a HBED.