Benjamin C Sun

Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, United States

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Publications (31)91.82 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Emergency department (ED) crowding has been identified as a major threat to public health.
    Medical care. 07/2014; 52(7):602-11.
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    ABSTRACT: There is limited evidence to guide the emergency department (ED) evaluation and management of syncope. The First International Workshop on Syncope Risk Stratification in the Emergency Department identified key research questions and methodological standards essential to advancing the science of ED-based syncope research.
    Annals of emergency medicine. 05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Palpitations is a common complaint in patients who visit the emergency department (ED), with causes ranging from benign to life threatening. We analyzed the ED component of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for 2001 through 2010 for visits with a chief complaint of palpitations and calculated nationally representative weighted estimates for prevalence, demographic characteristics, and admission rates. ED and hospital discharge diagnoses were tabulated and categorized, and recursive partitioning was used to identify factors associated with admission. An estimated 684,000 visits had a primary reason for visit of “palpitations” representing a national prevalence of 5.8 per 1,000 ED visits (0.58%, 95% confidence interval 0.52 to 0.64). Women and non-Hispanic whites were responsible for most visits. A cardiac diagnosis made up 34% of all ED diagnoses. The overall admission rate was 24.6% (95% confidence interval 21.2 to 28.1), with higher rates seen in the Midwest and Northeast compared with the West. Survey-weighted recursive partitioning revealed several factors associated with admission including age >50 years, male gender, cardiac ED diagnosis, tachycardia, hypertension, and Medicare insurance. In conclusion, palpitations are responsible for a significant minority of ED visits and are associated with a cardiac diagnosis roughly 1/3 of the time. This was associated with a relatively high admission rate, although significant regional variation in these rates exists.
    The American Journal of Cardiology. 05/2014; 113(10):1685–1690.
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    ABSTRACT: Prior studies of admitted geriatric syncope patients suggest that diagnostic tests affect management < 5% of the time; whether this is true among all emergency department (ED) patients with syncope remains unclear. To determine the diagnostic yield of routine testing in the hospital or after ED discharge among patients presenting to an ED with syncope. A prospective, observational, cohort study of consecutive ED patients aged ≥ 18 years presenting with syncope was conducted. The four most commonly utilized tests (echocardiography, telemetry, ambulatory electrocardiography monitoring, and troponin) were studied. Interobserver agreement as to whether test results determined the etiology of the syncope was measured using kappa (κ) values. Of 570 patients with syncope, 73 patients (8%; 95% confidence interval 7-10%) had studies that were diagnostic. One hundred fifty (26%) had echocardiography, with 33 (22%) demonstrating a likely etiology of the syncopal event, such as critical valvular disease or significantly depressed left ventricular function (κ = 0.75). On hospitalization, 330 (58%) patients were placed on telemetry, and 19 (3%) had worrisome dysrhythmias (κ = 0.66). There were 317 (55%) patients who had troponin levels drawn, of whom 19 (3%) had positive results (κ = 1); 56 (10%) patients were discharged with monitoring, with significant findings in only 2 (0.4%) patients (κ = 0.65). Although routine testing is prevalent in ED patients with syncope, the diagnostic yield is relatively low. Nevertheless, some testing, particularly echocardiography, may yield critical findings. Current efforts to reduce the cost of medical care by eliminating nondiagnostic medical testing and increasing emphasis on practicing evidence-based medicine argue for more discriminate testing when evaluating syncope.
    Journal of Emergency Medicine 03/2014; · 1.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Palpitations is a common complaint in patients who visit the emergency department (ED), with causes ranging from benign to life threatening. We analyzed the ED component of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for 2001 through 2010 for visits with a chief complaint of palpitations and calculated nationally representative weighted estimates for prevalence, demographic characteristics, and admission rates. ED and hospital discharge diagnoses were tabulated and categorized, and recursive partitioning was used to identify factors associated with admission. An estimated 684,000 visits had a primary reason for visit of "palpitations" representing a national prevalence of 5.8 per 1,000 ED visits (0.58%, 95% confidence interval 0.52 to 0.64). Women and non-Hispanic whites were responsible for most visits. A cardiac diagnosis made up 34% of all ED diagnoses. The overall admission rate was 24.6% (95% confidence interval 21.2 to 28.1), with higher rates seen in the Midwest and Northeast compared with the West. Survey-weighted recursive partitioning revealed several factors associated with admission including age >50 years, male gender, cardiac ED diagnosis, tachycardia, hypertension, and Medicare insurance. In conclusion, palpitations are responsible for a significant minority of ED visits and are associated with a cardiac diagnosis roughly 1/3 of the time. This was associated with a relatively high admission rate, although significant regional variation in these rates exists.
    The American journal of cardiology 03/2014; · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Older adults are frequently hospitalized from the emergency department (ED) after an episode of unexplained syncope. Current admission patterns are costly, with little evidence of benefit. We hypothesize that an ED observation syncope protocol will reduce resource use without adversely affecting patient-oriented outcomes. This randomized trial at 5 EDs compared an ED observation syncope protocol to inpatient admission for intermediate-risk adults (≥50 years) presenting with syncope or near syncope. Primary outcomes included inpatient admission rate and length of stay. Secondary outcomes included 30-day and 6-month serious outcomes after hospital discharge, index and 30-day hospital costs, 30-day quality-of-life scores, and 30-day patient satisfaction. Study staff randomized 124 patients. Observation resulted in a lower inpatient admission rate (15% versus 92%; 95% confidence interval [CI] difference -88% to -66%) and shorter hospital length of stay (29 versus 47 hours; 95% CI difference -28 to -8). Serious outcome rates after hospital discharge were similar for observation versus admission at 30 days (3% versus 0%; 95% CI difference -1% to 8%) and 6 months (8% versus 10%; 95% CI difference -13% to 9%). Index hospital costs in the observation group were $629 (95% CI difference -$1,376 to -$56) lower than in the admission group. There were no differences in 30-day quality-of-life scores or in patient satisfaction. An ED observation syncope protocol reduced the primary outcomes of admission rate and hospital length of stay. Analyses of secondary outcomes suggest reduction in index hospital costs, with no difference in safety events, quality of life, or patient satisfaction. Our findings suggest that an ED observation syncope protocol can be replicated and safely reduce resource use.
    Annals of emergency medicine 11/2013; · 4.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Emergency department (ED) crowding is linked with poor quality of care and worse outcomes, including higher mortality. With the growing emphasis on hospital performance measures, there is additional concern whether inadequate care during crowded periods increases a patient's likelihood of subsequent inpatient admission. We sought to determine if ED crowding during the index visit was associated with these "bounceback" admissions. We used comprehensive, nonpublic, statewide ED and inpatient discharge data from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development from 2007 to identify index outpatient ED visits and bounceback admissions within 7 days. We further used ambulance diversion data collected from California local emergency medical services agencies to identify crowded days using intrahospital daily diversion hour quartiles. Using a hierarchical logistic regression model, we then determined if patients visiting on crowded days were more likely to have a subsequent bounceback admission. We analyzed 3,368,527 index visits across 202 hospitals, of which 596,471 (17.7%) observations were on crowded days. We found no association between ED crowding and bounceback admissions. This lack of relationship persisted in both a discrete (high/low) model (OR, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.99, 1.02) and a secondary model using ambulance diversion hours as a continuous predictor (OR, 1.00; 95% CI, 1.00, 1.00). Crowding as measured by ambulance diversion does not have an association with hospitalization within 7 days of an ED visit discharge. Therefore, bounceback admission may be a poor measure of delayed or worsened quality of care due to crowding.
    Medical care 09/2013; · 3.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Early death after emergency department (ED) discharge may signal opportunities to improve care. Prior studies are limited by incomplete mortality ascertainment and lack of clinically important information in administrative data. The goal in this hypothesis-generating study was to identify patient and process of care themes that may provide possible explanations for early postdischarge mortality. This was a qualitative analysis of medical records of adult patients who visited the ED of any of six hospitals in an integrated health system (Kaiser Permanente Southern California [KPSC]) and died within 7 days of discharge in 2007 and 2008. Nonmembers, visits to non-health plan hospitals, patients receiving or referred to hospice care, and patients with do not attempt resuscitation or do not intubate orders (DNAR/DNI) were excluded. Under the guidance of two qualitative research scientists, a team of three emergency physicians used grounded theory techniques to identify patient clinical presentations and processes of care that serve as potential explanations for poor outcome after discharge. The source population consisted of a total of 290,092 members with 446,120 discharges from six KPSC EDs in 2007 and 2008. A total of 203 deaths occurred within 7 days of ED discharge (0.05%). Sixty-one randomly chosen cases were reviewed. Patient-level themes that emerged included an unexplained persistent acute change in mental status, recent fall, abnormal vital signs, ill-appearing presentation, malfunctioning indwelling device, and presenting symptoms remaining at discharge. Process-of-care factors included a discrepancy in history of present illness, incomplete physical examination, and change of discharge plan by a third party, such as a consulting or admitting physician. In this hypothesis-generating study, qualitative research techniques were used to identify clinical and process-of-care factors in patients who died within days after discharge from an ED. These potential predictors will be formally tested in a future quantitative study.
    Academic Emergency Medicine 08/2013; 20(8):778-85. · 1.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: STUDY OBJECTIVE: Hospitalizations that occur shortly after emergency department (ED) discharge may reveal opportunities to improve ED or follow-up care. There currently is limited, population-level information about such events. We identify hospital- and visit-level predictors of bounce-back admissions, defined as 7-day unscheduled hospital admissions after ED discharge. METHODS: Using the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development files, we conducted a retrospective cohort analysis of adult (aged >18 years) ED visits resulting in discharge in 2007. Candidate predictors included index hospital structural characteristics such as ownership, teaching affiliation, trauma status, and index ED size, along with index visit patient characteristics of demographic information, day of service, against medical advice or eloped disposition, insurance, and ED primary discharge diagnosis. We fit a multivariable, hierarchic logistic regression to account for clustering of ED visits by hospitals. RESULTS: The study cohort contained a total of 5,035,833 visits to 288 facilities in 2007. Bounce-back admission within 7 days occurred in 130,526 (2.6%) visits and was associated with Medicaid (odds ratio [OR] 1.42; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.40 to 1.45) or Medicare insurance (OR 1.53; 95% CI 1.50 to 1.55) and a disposition of leaving against medical advice or before the evaluation was complete (OR 1.90; 95% CI 1.89 to 2.0). The 3 most common age-adjusted index ED discharge diagnoses associated with a bounce-back admission were chronic renal disease, not end stage (OR 3.3; 95% CI 2.8 to 3.8), end-stage renal disease (OR 2.9; 95% CI 2.4 to 3.6), and congestive heart failure (OR 2.5; 95% CI 2.3 to 2.6). Hospital characteristics associated with a higher bounce-back admission rate were for-profit status (OR 1.2; 95% CI 1.1 to 1.3) and teaching affiliation (OR 1.2; 95% CI 1.0 to 1.3). CONCLUSION: We found 2.6% of discharged patients from California EDs to have a bounce-back admission within 7 days. We identified vulnerable populations, such as the very old and the use of Medicaid insurance, and chronic or end-stage renal disease as being especially at risk. Our findings suggest that quality improvement efforts focus on high-risk individuals and that the disposition plan of patients consider vulnerable populations.
    Annals of emergency medicine 02/2013; · 4.23 Impact Factor
  • Benjamin C Sun
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    ABSTRACT: Syncope is a prevalent condition that is associated with high morbidity, health service use, and costs. Syncope negatively impacts multiple domains of quality-of-life, including physical health, mental health, and functional status. The morbidity associated with recurrent syncope is equivalent to chronic conditions such as severe rheumatoid arthritis and low back pain. Frequency of syncope events is related to worse morbidity, suggesting that effective diagnosis and management can improve quality-of-life. There is a high incidence of health service use associated with syncope, including 740,000 annual emergency department visits and 460,000 hospital admissions in the United States. Rates of admission and inpatient diagnostic testing are characterized by high variance and low clinical utility. Finally, the evaluation of syncope is associated with high costs. Hospital costs associated with the inpatient evaluation of syncope exceed $2.4 billion per year in the United States. Improved diagnostic and treatment algorithms are urgently needed to improve patient quality-of-life, reduce health service use, and lower costs related to the evaluation of syncope.
    Progress in cardiovascular diseases 01/2013; 55(4):370-5. · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: STUDY OBJECTIVE: Emergency department (ED) crowding is a prevalent health delivery problem and may adversely affect the outcomes of patients requiring admission. We assess the association of ED crowding with subsequent outcomes in a general population of hospitalized patients. METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort analysis of patients admitted in 2007 through the EDs of nonfederal, acute care hospitals in California. The primary outcome was inpatient mortality. Secondary outcomes included hospital length of stay and costs. ED crowding was established by the proxy measure of ambulance diversion hours on the day of admission. To control for hospital-level confounders of ambulance diversion, we defined periods of high ED crowding as those days within the top quartile of diversion hours for a specific facility. Hierarchic regression models controlled for demographics, time variables, patient comorbidities, primary diagnosis, and hospital fixed effects. We used bootstrap sampling to estimate excess outcomes attributable to ED crowding. RESULTS: We studied 995,379 ED visits resulting in admission to 187 hospitals. Patients who were admitted on days with high ED crowding experienced 5% greater odds of inpatient death (95% confidence interval [CI] 2% to 8%), 0.8% longer hospital length of stay (95% CI 0.5% to 1%), and 1% increased costs per admission (95% CI 0.7% to 2%). Excess outcomes attributable to periods of high ED crowding included 300 inpatient deaths (95% CI 200 to 500 inpatient deaths), 6,200 hospital days (95% CI 2,800 to 8,900 hospital days), and $17 million (95% CI $11 to $23 million) in costs. CONCLUSION: Periods of high ED crowding were associated with increased inpatient mortality and modest increases in length of stay and costs for admitted patients.
    Annals of emergency medicine 12/2012; · 4.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It is well documented that racial and ethnic minority populations disproportionately use hospital emergency departments for safety-net care. But what is not known is whether emergency department crowding is disproportionately affecting minority populations and potentially aggravating existing health care disparities, including poorer outcomes for minorities. We examined ambulance diversion, a proxy measure for crowding, at 202 California hospitals. We found that hospitals serving large minority populations were more likely to divert ambulances than were hospitals with a lower proportion of minorities, even when controlling for hospital ownership, emergency department capacity, and other hospital demographic and structural factors. These findings suggest that establishing more-uniform criteria to regulate diversion may help reduce disparities in access to emergency care.
    Health Affairs 08/2012; 31(8):1767-76. · 4.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is increasing research interest in the risk stratification of emergency department (ED) syncope patients. A major barrier to comparing and synthesizing existing research is wide variation in the conduct and reporting of studies. The authors wanted to create standardized reporting guidelines for ED syncope risk-stratification research using an expert consensus process. In that pursuit, a panel of syncope researchers was convened and a literature review was performed to identify candidate reporting guideline elements. Candidate elements were grouped into four sections: eligibility criteria, outcomes, electrocardiogram (ECG) findings, and predictors. A two-round, modified Delphi consensus process was conducted using an Internet-based survey application. In the first round, candidate elements were rated on a five-point Likert scale. In the second round, panelists rerated items after receiving information about group ratings from the first round. Items that were rated by >80% of the panelists at the two highest levels of the Likert scale were included in the final guidelines. There were 24 panelists from eight countries who represented five clinical specialties. The panel identified an initial set of 183 candidate elements. After two survey rounds, the final reporting guidelines included 92 items that achieved >80% consensus. These included 10 items for study eligibility, 23 items for outcomes, nine items for ECG abnormalities, and 50 items for candidate predictors. Adherence to these guidelines should facilitate comparison of future research in this area.
    Academic Emergency Medicine 06/2012; 19(6):694-702. · 1.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The risk of short-term mortality after an emergency department (ED) visit for syncope is poorly understood, resulting in prognostic uncertainty and frequent hospital admission. The authors determined patterns and risk factors for short-term mortality after a diagnosis of syncope or near syncope to aid in medical decision-making. A retrospective cohort study was performed of adult members of Kaiser Permanente Southern California seen at 11 EDs from 2002 to 2006 with a primary discharge diagnosis of syncope or near syncope (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision [ICD-9] 780.2). The outcome was 30-day mortality. Proportional hazards time-to-event regression models were used to identify risk factors. There were 22,189 participants with 23,951 ED visits, resulting in 307 deaths by 30 days. A relatively lower risk of death was reached within 2 weeks for ages 18 to 59 years, but not until 3 months or more for ages 60 and older. Preexisting comorbidities associated with increased mortality included heart failure (hazard ratio [HR] = 14.3 in ages 18 to 59 years, HR = 3.09 in ages 60 to 79 years, HR = 2.34 in ages 80 years plus; all p < 0.001), diabetes (HR = 1.49, p = 0.002), seizure (HR = 1.65, p = 0.016), and dementia (HR = 1.41, p = 0.034). If the index visit followed one or more visits for syncope in the previous 30 days, it was associated with increased mortality (HR = 1.86, p = 0.024). Absolute risk of death at 30 days was under 0.2% in those under 60 years without heart failure and more than 2.5% across all ages in those with heart failure. The low risk of death after an ED visit for syncope or near syncope in patients younger than 60 years old without heart failure may be helpful when deciding who to admit for inpatient evaluation. The presence of one or more comorbidities that predict death and a prior visit for syncope should be considered in clinical decisions and risk stratification tools for patients with syncope. Close clinical follow-up seems advisable in patients 60 years and older due to a prolonged risk of death.
    Academic Emergency Medicine 05/2012; 19(5):488-96. · 1.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Geographical barriers to subspecialty care may prevent optimal care of patients living in rural areas. We assess the impact of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C telemedicine consultation on patient-oriented outcomes in a rural Veterans Affairs population. This was a pre- and post-intervention study comparing telemedicine with in-person subspecialty clinic visits for HIV and hepatitis C. Eligible patients resided in 2 rural catchment areas. The primary binary outcome was clinic completion. We estimated a logistic regression model with patient-level fixed effects. This approach controls for the clustering of visits by patient, uses each patient's in-person clinic experience as an internal control group, and eliminates confounding by person-level factors. We also surveyed patients to assess satisfaction and patient-perceived reductions in health visit-related time. There were 43 patients who accounted for 94 telemedicine visits and 128 in-person visits. Clinic completion rates were higher for telemedicine (76%) than for in-person visits (61%). In regression analyses, telemedicine was strongly predictive of clinic completion (OR 2.2; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.0-4.7). The adjusted effect of telemedicine on clinic completion rate was 13% (95% CI: 12-13). Of the 30 patients (70%) who completed the survey, more than 95% rated telemedicine at the highest level of satisfaction and preferred telemedicine to in-person clinic visits. Patients reported a significant reduction in health visit-related time (median 340 minutes, interquartile range 250-440), mostly due to decreased travel time. HIV and hepatitis C telemedicine clinics are associated with improved access, high patient satisfaction, and reduction in health visit-related time.
    The American journal of managed care 01/2012; 18(4):207-12. · 2.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Syncope remains challenging for Emergency Department (ED) physicians due to difficulties in assessing the risk of future adverse outcomes. The aim of this meta-analysis is to establish the incidence and etiology of adverse outcomes as well as the predictors, in patients presenting with syncope to the ED. METHODS: A systematic electronic literature review was performed looking for eligible studies published between 1990 and 2010. Studies reporting multivariate predictors of adverse outcomes in patients presenting with syncope to the ED were included and pooled, when appropriate, using a random-effect method. Adverse events were defined as 'incidence of death, or of hospitalization and interventional procedures because of arrhythmias, ischemic heart disease or valvular heart disease'. RESULTS: 11 studies were included. Pooled analysis showed 42% (CI 95%; 32-52) of patients were admitted to hospital. Risk of death was 4.4% (CI 95%; 3.1-5.1) and 1.1% (CI 95%; 0.7-1.5) had a cardiovascular etiology. One third of patients were discharged without a diagnosis, while the most frequent diagnosis was 'situational, orthostatic or vasavagal syncope' in 29% (CI 95%; 12-47). 10.4% (CI 95%; 7.8-16) was diagnosed with heart disease, the most frequent type being bradyarrhythmia, 4.8% (CI 95%; 2.2-6.4) and tachyarrhythmia 2.6% (CI 95%; 1.1-3.1). Palpitations preceding syncope, exertional syncope, a history consistent of heart failure or ischemic heart disease, and evidence of bleeding were the most powerful predictors of an adverse outcome. CONCLUSION: Syncope carries a high risk of death, mainly related to cardiovascular disease. This large study which has established the most powerful predictors of adverse outcomes, may enable care and resources to be better focused at high risk patients.
    International journal of cardiology 12/2011; · 6.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We assessed the effect of a kiosk educational module on HIV screening rates and patient knowledge about HIV testing. The evaluation was performed in a walk-in clinic offering routine HIV screening. During alternating two-week periods, patients were referred either to view a kiosk-based, educational module prior to receiving usual care, or the kiosk module was turned off and no alterations to care processes were made. The primary outcome was HIV testing rate. The secondary outcome was knowledge about HIV rapid screening, as measured with a questionnaire. There were 71 patients in the kiosk periods and 79 patients in the usual-care periods. The overall HIV testing rate was 41%. The kiosk period was not associated with greater odds of HIV testing (OR 0.7; 95% CI: 0.4-1.4). In 44 patients who completed the knowledge survey, the kiosk group was strongly associated with increased knowledge (predicted increase in knowledge score: 1.3; 95% CI: 036-2.1). The brief kiosk educational module did not improve HIV screening rates, but it increased overall patient knowledge about HIV testing.
    Journal of telemedicine and telecare 10/2011; 17(8):446-50. · 0.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The emergency department (ED) is an inherently high-risk setting. Early death after an ED evaluation is a rare and devastating outcome; understanding it can potentially help improve patient care and outcomes. Using administrative data from an integrated health system, we describe characteristics and predictors of patients who experienced 7-day death after ED discharge. Administrative data from 12 hospitals were used to identify death after discharge in adults aged 18 year or older within 7 days of ED presentation from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2008. Patients who were nonmembers of the health system, in hospice care, or treated at out-of-network EDs were excluded. Predictors of 7-day postdischarge death were identified with multivariable logistic regression. The study cohort contained a total of 475,829 members, with 728,312 discharges from Kaiser Permanente Southern California EDs in 2007 and 2008. Death within 7 days of discharge occurred in 357 cases (0.05%). Increasing age, male sex, and number of preexisting comorbidities were associated with increased risk of death. The top 3 primary discharge diagnoses predictive of 7-day death after discharge included noninfectious lung disease (odds ratio [OR] 7.1; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.9 to 17.4), renal disease (OR 5.6; 95% CI 2.2 to 14.2), and ischemic heart disease (OR 3.8; 95% CI 1.0 to 13.6). Our study suggests that 50 in 100,000 patients in the United States die within 7 days of discharge from an ED. To our knowledge, our study is the first to identify potentially "high-risk" discharge diagnoses in patients who experience a short-term death after discharge.
    Annals of emergency medicine 07/2011; 58(6):551-558.e2. · 4.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Many believe that the "boarding" of emergency department (ED) patients awaiting inpatient beds compromises quality of care. To better study the quality of care of boarded patients, one should identify and understand the mechanisms accounting for any potential differences in care. This paper presents a conceptual boarding "structure-process-outcome" model to help assess quality of care provided to boarded patients and to aid in recognizing potential solutions to improve that quality, if it is deficient. The goal of the conceptual model is to create a practical framework on which a research and policy agenda can be based to measure and improve quality of care for boarded patients.
    Academic Emergency Medicine 04/2011; 18(4):430-5. · 1.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The proportion of patients who leave without being seen in the emergency department (ED) is an outcome-oriented measure of impaired access to emergency care and represents the failure of an emergency care delivery system to meet its goals of providing care to those most in need. Little is known about variation in the amount of left without being seen or about hospital-level determinants. Such knowledge is necessary to target hospital-level interventions to improve access to emergency care. We seek to determine whether hospital-level socioeconomic status case mix or hospital structural characteristics are predictive of ED left without being seen rates. We performed a cross-sectional study of all acute-care, nonfederal hospitals in California that operated an ED in 2007, using data from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development database and the US census. Our outcome of interest was whether a visit to a given hospital ED resulted in left without being seen. The proportion of left without being seen was measured by the number of left without being seen cases out of the total number of visits. We studied 9.2 million ED visits to 262 hospitals in California. The percentage of left without being seen varied greatly over hospitals, ranging from 0% to 20.3%, with a median percentage of 2.6%. In multivariable analyses adjusting for hospital-level socioeconomic status case mix, visitors to EDs with a higher proportion of low-income and poorly insured patients experienced a higher risk of left without being seen. We found that the odds of an ED visit resulting in left without being seen increased by a factor of 1.15 for each 10-percentage-point increase in poorly insured patients, and odds of left without being seen decreased by a factor of 0.86 for each $10,000 increase in household income. When hospital structural characteristics were added to the model, county ownership, trauma center designation, and teaching program affiliation were positively associated with increased probability of left without being seen (odds ratio 2.09; 1.62, and 2.14, respectively), and these factors attenuated the association with insurance status. Visitors to different EDs experience a large variation in their probability of left without being seen, and visitors to hospitals serving a high proportion of low-income and poorly insured patients are at disproportionately higher risk of leaving without being seen. Our findings suggest that there is room for substantial improvement in this outcome, and regional interventions can be targeted toward certain at-risk hospitals to improve access to emergency care.
    Annals of emergency medicine 02/2011; 58(1):24-32.e3. · 4.23 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

273 Citations
91.82 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2012–2014
    • Oregon Health and Science University
      • Department of Emergency Medicine
      Portland, Oregon, United States
    • Kaiser Permanente
      Oakland, California, United States
    • San Francisco VA Medical Center
      San Francisco, California, United States
  • 2007–2013
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • Department of Medicine
      Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 2010–2012
    • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
      Los Angeles, California, United States
  • 2011
    • University of California, San Francisco
      • Department of Emergency Medicine
      San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 2004–2011
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
      • Department of Emergency Medicine
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2007–2008
    • Harvard Medical School
      • Department of Medicine
      Cambridge, MA, United States
  • 2006
    • University of Southern California
      Los Angeles, California, United States