Change in Care Transition Practice for Patients With Nonspecific Chest Pain After Emergency Department Evaluation 2006 to 2012

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Abstract

Objectives

From 2005 to 2010 health care financing shifts in the United States may have affected care transition practices for emergency department (ED) patients with nonspecific chest pain (CP) after ED evaluation. Despite being less acutely ill than those with myocardial infarction, these patients’ management can be challenging. The risk of missing acute coronary syndrome is considerable enough to often warrant admission. Diagnostic advances and reimbursement limitations on the use of inpatient admission are encouraging the use of alternative ED care transition practices. In the setting of these health care changes, we hypothesized that there is a decline in inpatient admission rates for patients with nonspecific CP after ED evaluation.

Methods

We retrospectively used the Nationwide ED Sample to quantify total and annual inpatient hospital admission rates from 2006 to 2012 for patients with a final ED diagnosis of nonspecific CP. We assessed the change in admission rates over time and stratified by facility characteristics including safety-net hospital status, U.S. geographic region, urban/teaching status, trauma-level designation, and hospital funding status.

Results

The admission rate for all patients with a final ED diagnosis of nonspecific CP declined from 19.2% in 2006 to 11.3% in 2012. Variability across regions was observed, while metropolitan teaching hospitals and trauma centers reflected lower admission rates.

Conclusion

There was a 41.1% decline in inpatient hospital admission for patients with nonspecific CP after ED evaluation. This reduction is temporally associated with national policy changes affecting reimbursement for inpatient admissions.

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