Background: Data from clinical trials suggest that short-term mortality in outpatients presenting with pulmonary embolism (PE) is low and that outpatient therapy may be appropriate. However, subjects enrolled in these studies may not be representative of patients seen in the community setting.
Methods and results: The medical records of residents from Worcester, Mass, with International Classification of Disease, Ninth Edition, codes consistent with potential venous thromboembolism during 1999, 2001, and 2003 were independently validated and reviewed by trained abstractors. A total of 305 patients presented with PE from the outpatient setting. The rates of recurrent PE, major bleeding, mortality, or occurrence of any 1 of these end points at 90 days were 1.4%, 9.5%, 11.1%, and 20.1%, respectively. Patients with a history of congestive heart failure, recent intensive care unit discharge, cancer, severe infection, systolic blood pressure <100 mm Hg, and male sex were at increased risk for the composite end point.
Conclusions: In the present population-based study, morbidity and mortality after outpatient PE were much higher than what was observed in clinical studies. Our findings raise questions about broad-based outpatient treatment of PE in the community setting. In our study, comorbid conditions and recent illness were important determinants of adverse outcomes, suggesting that these variables should be carefully considered before embarking on outpatient therapy of PE.