Purpose: Little is known about physicians' use of inpatient cardiac telemetry units among emergency department patients at risk for cardiac complications. We therefore studied the outcomes of patients admitted to inpatient telemetry beds to identify a subset of patients from whom cardiac monitoring could be withheld safely.
Subjects and methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study of 1, 033 consecutive adult patients admitted to an inpatient telemetry unit from the emergency department of a 700-bed urban public teaching hospital. Subjects with or without chest pain were risk-stratified using a prediction rule and observed for in-hospital cardiac complications, acute myocardial infarction, and transfer to an intensive care unit (ICU).
Results: There were no significant differences between patients with (n = 677) or patients without chest pain (n = 356) in the rates of major cardiac complications, myocardial infarctions, or transfers to an ICU. Among 318 patients with chest pain who were classified as being very low risk, none suffered major complications (negative predictive value 100%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 98.8% to 100%). Among 214 very low risk patients without chest pain, 1 (0.5%) had a major complication (negative predictive value 99.5%; 95% CI: 97.4% to 99.9%).
Conclusions: The prediction rule accurately identified patients with or without chest pain who were at very low risk of major complications, identifying a subset from whom cardiac monitoring could be withheld safely.