Is Tachycardia at Discharge From the Pediatric Emergency Department a Cause for Concern? A Nonconcurrent Cohort Study

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Study objective:

We evaluate the association between discharge tachycardia and (1) emergency department (ED) and urgent care revisit and (2) receipt of clinically important intervention at the revisit.


The study included a nonconcurrent cohort of children aged 0 to younger than 19 years, discharged from 2 pediatric EDs and 4 pediatric urgent care centers in 2013. The primary exposure was discharge tachycardia (last recorded pulse rate ≥99th percentile for age). The main outcome was ED or urgent care revisit within 72 hours of discharge. Additional outcomes included interventions received and disposition at the revisit, prevalence of discharge tachycardia at the index visit, and associations of pain, fever, and medications with discharge tachycardia. Multivariable logistic regression determined relative risk ratios for revisit and receipt of clinically important intervention at the revisit.


Of eligible visits, 126,774 were included, of which 10,470 patients (8.3%) had discharge tachycardia. Discharge tachycardia was associated with an increased risk of revisit (adjusted RR 1.3; 95% confidence interval 1.2 to 1.5), increased risk of tachycardia at the revisit (relative risk 3.1; 95% confidence interval 2.6 to 3.7), and of the receipt of certain clinically important interventions (supplemental oxygen, respiratory medications and admission, antibiotics and admission, and peripheral intravenous line placement and admission). However, there was no increased risk for the composite outcome of receipt of any clinically important intervention or admission on revisit.


Discharge tachycardia is associated with an increased risk of revisit. It is likely that tachycardia at discharge is not a critical factor associated with impending physiologic deterioration.

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