Objectives: To characterize hospital variation in use of observation stays to manage pulmonary embolism (PE) and its association with subsequent outcomes.
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of hospitals reporting ≥75 PE encounters (emergency department, observation stay or inpatient admission) using Premier data from 11/2012-3/2015. We included hospital encounters for adults with a primary diagnosis of PE (415.1x), ≥1 diagnostic test claim for PE on day 0-2 and evidence of PE treatment. Hospitals were divided into tertiles (Ts) based on the proportion of all PE encounters managed as an observation stay. The association between observation stay utilization and the proportion of PE encounters resulting in in-hospital death or re-admission within the same or subsequent 2-months were compared across Ts using a generalized estimating equation adjusted for individual encounter disease severity.
Results: Observation PE management increased over the study period (1.9%-5.4%; Pearson's r = 0.88, p < 0.001). Of all hospitals reporting ≥1 PE encounter, 255 had ≥75 encounters (representing a total of 38,172 PE encounters) and were included in the analysis. Individual hospital observation use for PE management varied from 0%-33.9%. Mean hospital rates of PE observation stay by T were T1 = 0.1%, T2 = 2.2% and T3 = 7.9%. Hospitals that used observation stays most frequently (T3) were more likely in the South or Mid-west (p < 0.001), to be a teaching hospital (p = 0.03) and less likely to serve an urban population (p = 0.02). Hospitals in T3 (n = 11,780 encounters) were not associated with a statistically significant increased risk of in-hospital death (2.3% vs. 2.1%-2.6%) or all-cause (4.7% vs. 5.1%-5.4%), venous thromboembolism-(1.4% vs. 1.8%-2.0%) or major bleeding (0.3% vs. 0.2-0.3%)-related re-admission in the same or subsequent 2-months compared to T1 (n = 12,940 encounters) and T2 (n = 13,452 encounters).
Conclusion: PE management via observation stays has increased over recent years. Hospitals more frequently utilizing observation stays may not experience increased negative outcomes, such as re-admission.
Keywords: Pulmonary embolism; major bleeding; observation stay; physicians’; practice patterns; venous thromboembolism.