Association between outpatient follow-up and pediatric emergency department asthma visits

J Asthma. 2003;40(7):741-9. doi: 10.1081/jas-120023499.


Background: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) guidelines recommend that patients receive a follow-up outpatient asthma visit after being discharged from an emergency department (ED) for asthma.

Objective: To measure the frequency of follow-up outpatient asthma visits and its association with repeat ED asthma visit.

Design: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of children with asthma using claims data from a university-based managed care organization from January 1998 to October 2000. We performed a multivariate survival analysis using Cox proportional hazards model to determine the effect of follow-up outpatient asthma visits on the likelihood of a repeat ED asthma visit, after controlling for severity of illness, patient age, gender, insurance, and the specialty of the primary care provider.

Results: A total of 561 children had 780 ED asthma visits. Of these, 103 (17%) had a repeat ED asthma visit within 1 year. Almost two-thirds of children (66%) did not receive outpatient follow-up for asthma within 30 days of an ED asthma visit. Outpatient asthma visits within 30 days of an ED asthma visit are associated with an increased likelihood (relative risk = 1.80; 95% confidence interval 1.19, 2.72) for repeat ED asthma visits within 1 year.

Conclusions: Most patients do not have outpatient follow-up after an ED asthma visit. However, those patients that present for outpatient follow-up have an increased likelihood for repeat ED asthma visits. For the primary care provider, these outpatient follow-up visits signal an increased risk that a patient will return to the ED for asthma and are a key opportunity to prevent future ED asthma visits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies