Factors associated with frequency of emergency department visits for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation

J Gen Intern Med. 2007 Jun;22(6):799-804. doi: 10.1007/s11606-007-0191-7. Epub 2007 Apr 5.


Background: Little is known about the factors associated with frequency of emergency department visits (FEDV) in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients with recurrent exacerbations.

Objective: To characterize the use of emergency department (ED) services in patients with COPD exacerbation and identify factors associated with FEDV.

Design: A prospective, multicenter cohort study.

Patients: Three hundred eighty-eight patients were included. Fifty-two percent were women and the median age was 69 years (interquartile range 62-76).

Measurements: Using a standard questionnaire, consecutive ED patients with COPD exacerbation were interviewed. The number of ED visits in the previous year was retrospectively collected.

Results: Over the past year, this cohort reported a total of 1,090 ED visits because of COPD exacerbation. Thirteen percent of COPD patients had 6 or more ED visits, accounting for 57% of the total ED visits in the past year. Multivariate analysis showed that patients with an increased FEDV were more likely to be Hispanic (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.97, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.16-3.33), to have more severe COPD as determined by previous hospitalizations (IRR 2.06, 95% CI 1.51-2.82), prior intubations (IRR 1.49, 95% CI 1.02-2.18), prior use of systemic corticosteroids (IRR 1.57, 95% CI 1.16-2.13) and methylxanthine (IRR 1.48, 95% CI 1.04-2.12), and less likely to have a primary care provider (IRR 0.51, 95% CI 0.31-0.82).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that both disease and health care-related factors were associated with FEDV in COPD exacerbation. Multidisciplinary efforts through primary care provider follow-up should be assessed to test the effects on reducing the high morbidity and cost of recurrent COPD exacerbations.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology