Synchronized emergency department cardioversion of atrial dysrhythmias saves time, money and resources

J Emerg Med. 2005 Jan;28(1):27-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2004.07.011.


The strategy of elective synchronized cardioversion (EDCV) of new onset atrial fibrillation/flutter (AF/flutter) compares favorably to that of Emergency Department (ED) rate control and inpatient admission. This 1-year study comprised consecutive ED synchronized cardioversions performed on patients with new onset (< 48 h) AF/flutter; all were hemodynamically stable. A control group was obtained by chart review of all patients meeting the inclusion criteria admitted in the same year who were managed with rate control in the ED and inpatient admission. Thirty ED cardioversions were performed on 24 patients. Twenty-nine of 30 (97%) of ED cardioversions were successful. The mean hospital length of stay (LOS) for the EDCV group, including those admitted, was 22.8 h (95% CI: 1.7-44.0) compared to the control group: 55.6 h (all admitted) (95% CI: 41.6-69.6). Median LOS for the entire EDCV group was 4 h, compared with 39.3 h for the controls (p < 0.001). There was also a significant difference in median hospital charge, including ED care: EDCV group: $1598 vs. controls $4271 (p < 0.001). All of the study patients were contacted by telephone a minimum of 4 weeks after cardioversion to assess for complications, recidivism, and satisfaction. There were no complications in the EDCV group, and all expressed satisfaction with the procedure. Elective synchronized cardioversion in the ED is an effective strategy for management of new-onset AF/flutter and is associated with significant decreases in charges and length of stay as well as a high degree of patient satisfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrial Fibrillation / economics*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / therapy
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Electric Countershock / economics*
  • Electric Countershock / methods
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / economics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / economics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction / economics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors