Study objective: Low-risk patients with chest pain are often admitted to monitored beds; however, the use of telemetry beds in this cohort is not evidence based. We tested the hypothesis that monitoring admitted low-risk patients with chest pain for dysrhythmia is low yield (<1% detection of life-threatening dysrhythmias requiring treatment).
Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study of emergency department (ED) patients with chest pain with a Goldman risk score of less than 8%, a normal initial creatine kinase-MB level, and a negative initial troponin I level admitted to non-ICU monitored beds. Investigators followed the hospital course daily. The main outcome was cardiovascular death and life-threatening ventricular dysrhythmia during telemetry.
Results: Of 3,681 patients with chest pain who presented to the ED, 1,750 patients were admitted to non-ICU monitored beds. Of these, 1,029 patients had a Goldman risk score of less than 8%, a troponin I level of less than 0.3 ng/mL, and a creatine kinase-MB level of less than 5 ng/mL (accounting for 59% of all chest pain telemetry admissions). During hospitalization, there were no patients with sustained ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation requiring treatment on the telemetry service (0%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0% to 0.3%). There were 2 deaths: neither was cardiovascular in nature or preventable by monitoring (cardiovascular preventable death rate=0%; 95% CI 0.0% to 0.3%).
Conclusion: The routine use of telemetry monitoring for low-risk patients with chest pain is of limited utility. Admission to nonmonitored beds might help alleviate ED crowding without increasing risk of adverse events caused by dysrhythmia in patients with a Goldman risk of less than 8%, an initial troponin I level of less than 0.3 ng/mL, and a creatine kinase-MB level of less than 5 ng/mL.