Patterns and predictors of short-term death after emergency department discharge

Ann Emerg Med. 2011 Dec;58(6):551-558.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2011.07.001. Epub 2011 Jul 29.

Abstract

Study objective: The emergency department (ED) is an inherently high-risk setting. Early death after an ED evaluation is a rare and devastating outcome; understanding it can potentially help improve patient care and outcomes. Using administrative data from an integrated health system, we describe characteristics and predictors of patients who experienced 7-day death after ED discharge.

Methods: Administrative data from 12 hospitals were used to identify death after discharge in adults aged 18 year or older within 7 days of ED presentation from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2008. Patients who were nonmembers of the health system, in hospice care, or treated at out-of-network EDs were excluded. Predictors of 7-day postdischarge death were identified with multivariable logistic regression.

Results: The study cohort contained a total of 475,829 members, with 728,312 discharges from Kaiser Permanente Southern California EDs in 2007 and 2008. Death within 7 days of discharge occurred in 357 cases (0.05%). Increasing age, male sex, and number of preexisting comorbidities were associated with increased risk of death. The top 3 primary discharge diagnoses predictive of 7-day death after discharge included noninfectious lung disease (odds ratio [OR] 7.1; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.9 to 17.4), renal disease (OR 5.6; 95% CI 2.2 to 14.2), and ischemic heart disease (OR 3.8; 95% CI 1.0 to 13.6).

Conclusion: Our study suggests that 50 in 100,000 patients in the United States die within 7 days of discharge from an ED. To our knowledge, our study is the first to identify potentially "high-risk" discharge diagnoses in patients who experience a short-term death after discharge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • California / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / mortality
  • Logistic Models
  • Lung Diseases / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / mortality
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult