Background: Outpatient management is safe for patients with non-variceal upper-GI bleeding who are at low risk of recurrent bleeding and death. However, outpatient care cannot be offered to many patients because of the presence of risk factors (severe comorbid disorders, major endoscopic stigmata of bleeding, significant hemorrhage). The present study assessed the safety of outpatient management for selected high-risk patients with bleeding peptic ulcer.
Methods: Patients hospitalized with upper-GI bleeding because of peptic ulcer with a non-bleeding vessel were eligible for inclusion in the study. Inclusion criteria were the following: ulcer size less than 15 mm, absence of hypovolemia, no associated severe disease, and appropriate family support. After endoscopic therapy (injection of epinephrine and polidocanol), patients were randomized to outpatient or hospital care. Patients remained in the emergency ward for a minimum of 6 hours before discharge, during which time omeprazole was administered intravenously. Outpatients were contacted by telephone daily during the first 3 days; a 24-hour telephone hotline was provided for any queries. For both groups, outpatient visits were scheduled at 7 to 10 and 30 days after discharge.
Results: A total of 82 patients were included: 40 were randomized to outpatient care and 42 to hospital care. Clinical and endoscopic variables were similar in both groups. The rate of recurrent bleeding was similar in both groups (4.8% outpatient, 5% hospital). There was no morbidity or mortality in either group at 30 days. Seven patients (17%) randomized to outpatient care received blood transfusion compared with 14 (38%) in the hospital care group (p=0.06). Mean cost of care per patient was significantly lower for the outpatient vs. the hospital group (970 US dollars vs. 1595 US dollars; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Selected patients with bleeding peptic ulcer can be safely managed as outpatients after endoscopic therapy. This policy conserves health care resources without compromising standards of care.