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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Does Prolonged Length of Stay in the Emergency Department Affect Outcome for Stroke Patients?


Introduction: Conflicting data exist regarding the association between the length of stay (LOS) of critically ill patients in the emergency department (ED) and their subsequent outcome. However, such patients are an overall heterogeneous group, and we therefore sought to study the association between EDLOS and outcomes in a specific subgroup of critically ill patients, namely those with acute ischemic stroke/transient ischemic attack (AIS/TIA).

Methods: This was a retrospective review of adult patients with a discharge diagnosis of AIS/TIA presenting to an ED between July 2009 and February 2010. We collected demographics, EDLOS, arrival stroke severity (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale - NIHSS), intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (IV tPA) use, functional outcome at discharge, discharge destination and hospital-LOS. We analyzed relationship between EDLOS, outcomes and discharge destination aftercontrolling for confounders.

Results: 190 patients were included in the cohort. Median EDLOS was 332 minutes (Inter-Quartile Range -IQR: 250.3–557.8). There was a significant inverse linear association between EDLOS and hospital-LOS (p¼0.049). Patients who received IV tPA had a shorter median EDLOS (238 minutes, IQR: 194–299) than patients who did not (median: 387 minutes, IQR: 285–588 minutes; p,0.0001). There was no significant association between EDLOS and poor outcome (p¼0.40), discharge destination (p¼0.20), or death (p¼0.44). This remained true even after controlling for IV tPA use, NIHSS and hospital-LOS; and did not change even when analysis was restricted to AIS patients alone.

Conclusion: There was no significant association between prolonged EDLOS and outcome for AIS/ TIA patients at our institution. We therefore suggest that EDLOS alone is an insufficient indicator of stroke care in the ED, and that the ED can provide appropriate acute care for AIS/TIA patients. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(3):267–275.]

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