Quality of emergency room care for atrial fibrillation.
ABSTRACT Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia in emergency rooms (ER). We surveyed the clinical characteristics and quality of care of AF patients in three emergency rooms in Helsinki, Finland.
Observational data of the treatment of 179 consecutive symptomatic AF patients were prospectively collected. The quality of care was analysed according to a predestined set of criteria.
Mean age of the patients was 63 years and 61% were men. The leading symptom was palpitation (86%). Sinus rhythm was achieved in 70%. New anticoagulation was initiated in 20% and cardiovascular medication modified in 42% of patients. Considering the overall quality of care, including documentation in the patient chart, it was classified as good in 53% of all patients, whereas the quality of therapeutic decisions and planning for follow-up was good in 77%.
The ER visit results in extensive treatment modifications in two of three patients. Although inadequate care is rare, maintaining good quality requires adherence to clinical guidelines, careful documentation and plans for follow-up.