Background: Although practice guidelines recommend outpatient care for selected, haemodynamically stable patients with pulmonary embolism, most treatment is presently inpatient based. We aimed to assess non-inferiority of outpatient care compared with inpatient care.
Methods: We undertook an open-label, randomised non-inferiority trial at 19 emergency departments in Switzerland, France, Belgium, and the USA. We randomly assigned patients with acute, symptomatic pulmonary embolism and a low risk of death (pulmonary embolism severity index risk classes I or II) with a computer-generated randomisation sequence (blocks of 2-4) in a 1:1 ratio to initial outpatient (ie, discharged from hospital ≤24 h after randomisation) or inpatient treatment with subcutaneous enoxaparin (≥5 days) followed by oral anticoagulation (≥90 days). The primary outcome was symptomatic, recurrent venous thromboembolism within 90 days; safety outcomes included major bleeding within 14 or 90 days and mortality within 90 days. We used a non-inferiority margin of 4% for a difference between inpatient and outpatient groups. We included all enrolled patients in the primary analysis, excluding those lost to follow-up. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00425542.
Findings: Between February, 2007, and June, 2010, we enrolled 344 eligible patients. In the primary analysis, one (0·6%) of 171 outpatients developed recurrent venous thromboembolism within 90 days compared with none of 168 inpatients (95% upper confidence limit [UCL] 2·7%; p=0·011). Only one (0·6%) patient in each treatment group died within 90 days (95% UCL 2·1%; p=0·005), and two (1·2%) of 171 outpatients and no inpatients had major bleeding within 14 days (95% UCL 3·6%; p=0·031). By 90 days, three (1·8%) outpatients but no inpatients had developed major bleeding (95% UCL 4·5%; p=0·086). Mean length of stay was 0·5 days (SD 1·0) for outpatients and 3·9 days (SD 3·1) for inpatients.
Interpretation: In selected low-risk patients with pulmonary embolism, outpatient care can safely and effectively be used in place of inpatient care.
Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation, Programme Hospitalier de Recherche Clinique, and the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Sanofi-Aventis provided free drug supply in the participating European centres.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.