The decision to discharge versus admit a patient from the emergency department (ED) carries significant consequences to the patient and healthcare system.
We evaluated all ED visits at a single facility from January 1–December 31, 2015, where the ED provider initially requested admission to medicine; however, following medicine evaluation, the patient was discharged from the ED.
8.1% of medicine referrals resulted in discharge from the ED after referral for admission. 62.6% lacked documentation by medicine or another consulting service. Patients completed clinic follow-up within 7 or 30 days, 52.8% and 76.0% respectively. Emergency department revisit rates were similar for patients not referred versus referred for admission (8.0% vs. 8.1%, 13.3% vs. 14.6%, and 29.9% vs. 28.9% at 3, 7, and 30 days, respectively p-value > .05). Hospital admission during the follow-up period was also similar for these two groups (1.8% vs. 2.8%, 3.9% vs. 5.7%, and 11.3% vs. 15.0% at 3, 7, and 30 days, respectively p-value > .05).
Patients discharged from the ED after referral for medicine admission were not at significantly increased risk of subsequent ED revisit or hospital admission compared with nonreferred patients. This study illustrates the opportunity for collaboration between ED and medicine providers to refine disposition plans for patients who may fall into the “gray zone.”