Background: Limited data exist on the feasibility of providing outpatient care to patients with acute pulmonary embolism (PE).
Methods: We conducted a multicenter randomized clinical trial in acute symptomatic PE to compare the efficacy and safety of early discharge versus standard hospitalization. A clinical prediction rule was used to identify low-risk patients. All patients were followed for three months. The primary outcomes were venous thromboembolic recurrences, major and minor bleeding, and overall mortality.
Results: One hundred and thirty two low-risk patients with acute symptomatic PE were randomized to early discharge (n=72) or standard hospitalization (n=60). Overall mortality was 4.2% (95% CI, 0.5-8.9) in the early discharge group and 8.3% (95% CI, 1.1-15) in the standard hospitalization group (Relative Risk (RR) 0.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.12-2.01). Non-fatal recurrences were 2.8% (95% CI, 1.1-6.6) in the early discharge group and 3.3% (95% CI, 1.3-8%) in the standard hospitalization group (RR 0.8; 95% CI, 0.12-5.74). The rates of clinically relevant bleeding were 5.5% in the early discharge group and 5% in the standard hospitalization group (P=0.60). Short-term mortality was 2.8% (95% CI, 0.8-9.6%) in the early discharge group as compared with 0% in the standard hospitalization group. Based on the rate of short-term death in a carefully selected population, the study was suspended.
Conclusions: In spite of the number of complications in patients with acute symptomatic PE randomized to standard hospitalization or early discharge did not differ significantly. The rate of short-term mortality was unexpectedly high in a (a priori) low-risk group of patients with acute PE. The accuracy of clinical prediction scores needs to be validated in well designed clinical trials. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00214929.).
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