Podcast #234: ER Discharge and Mortality

Author: Pete Bakes, M.D.

Educational Pearls

  • One of the roles of the ER provider is to discharge patients only after life-threatening conditions have been ruled out. However, some patients that are discharged from the ED die within days of their discharge. One recent study sought to investigate the factors and diagnoses associated with death within 7 days of discharge.
  • This study was a retrospective study in 10 million medicare recipients that presented to the ER over 10 years. They excluded palliative, hospice and SNF patients.
  • 0.12% of these patients died within 7 days of ER discharge. Signs and symptoms such as altered mental status, general malaise and fatigue, and nonspecific dyspnea had relative risks of 3-5 for death following discharge.
  • Think carefully before discharge in patients with the signs/symptoms above.  

References: Obermeyer Ziad, Cohn Brent, Wilson Michael, JenaAnupam B, Cutler David M. Early death after discharge from emergency departments: analysis of national US insurance claims data BMJ 2017;356 :j239

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