Introduction: Because TIA increases the risk of subsequent stroke, rapid TIA management is key to stroke prevention. Controversy remains regarding the appropriate site of care for TIA patients. Recent literature shows high variability in care processes, admission rates, timeliness of interventions, cost of care, and outcomes, regardless of site of care. We developed a rapid TIA management process in our Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) to reduce cost and adverse outcomes. TIA patients that present to our ED are admitted to the CDU, but transfer patients with TIA are admitted to the inpatient unit (IPU).
Methods: Retrospectively, we identified TIA cases by ICD coding, and reviewed records from 4/1/2012 to 3/31/2016 for patients in the CDU and in the IPU. We compared length of stay (LOS), cost of care, readmission rates, and TIA/stroke recurrence between the two groups. Statistical analysis included Chi-square and Wilcoxon two-sample test for recurrence and readmission rates, and generalized linear modeling and Poisson analysis for LOS and cost analysis.
Results: A total of 731 patients presented for TIA management in the study period; 393 in CDU, and 338 in IPU. There was no statistical difference in age or sex between the two groups. Mean LOS (hours) in CDU vs IPU was 15 vs 108 (p<0.001), respectively. Total cost of care in CDU vs IPU was $3,835 vs $11,904 (p<0.001), respectively. Univariate analysis showed no appreciable difference in recurrent TIA or stroke rates; multivariate analysis of stroke recurrence for CDU (1.0%) vs IPU (3.6%) did show a small difference (p=0.024). When factoring in reduction of stroke recurrence, the final cost savings of the CDU program equaled $8,258 per patient. There was no difference in readmission rates between the two groups.
Conclusion: Using a rapid TIA management protocol yielded a significantly lower LOS and cost per patient. This may justify an avoidance of inpatient admission for TIA patients.