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Outcomes associated with observation versus short-stay admission among chest pain patients in the Veterans Health Administration.

Wright B, O'Shea AM, Glasgow JM, Ayyagari P, Vaughan-Sarrazin M. Outcomes associated with observation versus short-stay admission among chest pain patients in the Veterans Health Administration. BMC emergency medicine. 2016 Sep 21; 16(1):38.

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Abstract:

BACKGROUND: To determine the extent to which 30- and 90-day hospital readmission and mortality rates differ as a function of whether a chest pain patient is placed in observation status or admitted to the hospital for a short-stay ( < 48 h). METHODS: Using 114,043 observation stays and short-stay admissions for chest pain at Veterans Health Administration hospitals between 2005 and 2013, we estimated event-level logistic regression models using a generalized estimating equation framework to predict 30 and 90-day readmissions and mortality as a function of whether the patient had an observation stay or a short-stay admission. We also adjusted for a variety of patient characteristics and unobserved time-invariant hospital factors. RESULTS: Relative to the short-stay inpatient group, veterans with chest pain who were placed in observation status were significantly more likely to be female (7.0 % vs. 6.4 %, White (76.6 % vs. 71.0 %, and from a rural area (28.3 % vs. 20.2 %). There were no other meaningful differences between the groups. Veterans with chest pain who were placed in observation status had 25 % lower odds of dying within 30 days (95 % confidence interval [CI]: 3 % - 43 %) and 12 % lower odds of a 30-day readmission (95 % CI: 6 % - 17 %) compared to those admitted as short-stay inpatients. Neither 90-day outcome was significantly associated with placement in observation status. Patient demographics were also important predictors of mortality and readmissions. CONCLUSIONS: There are clinically observable differences in outcomes between patients admitted to observation and those admitted as short-stay inpatients. We find no evidence that the increase in observation stays reflects a lack of proper care for patients placed in observation status.





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