Study objectives: To determine which adult patients with new-onset seizures require admission and whether those who require admission can be identified in the emergency department.
Design: Retrospective chart review of patients seen during a 5-year period.
Setting: Urban county teaching hospital in southern California.
Participants: Three hundred thirty-three adult patients with new-onset seizures. Patients were excluded if they had acute head trauma, hypoglycemia from diabetic therapy, or alcohol- or recreational drug-related seizures.
Interventions: Standardized medical evaluation including physical examination, CBC, SMA-7 (electrolytes, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, glucose), calcium, cranial computed tomography (CT), lumbar puncture if indicated, and admission to the hospital.
Results: Forty-six percent of patients (136 of 294) admitted to our hospital required admission as judged by a retrospective evaluation of the ED and hospital course. The numbers of patients who had a clinically significant result with each part of the evaluation were: physical examination, 75 of 333 (23%); CBC, 25 of 319 (8%); SMA-7, 21 of 329 (6%); calcium, 2 of 208 (1%); CT, 134 of 325 (41%); and lumbar puncture, 19 of 227 (8%). Ninety-five percent of patients requiring admission (129 of 136) were detected by the standardized medical evaluation.
Conclusion: One half of patients with new-onset seizures require admission. Patients with new-onset seizures who require admission can usually be detected by a standardized medical evaluation in the ED.