Background There has been a recent drive to implement rapid rule-out strategies which allow the early discharge of low-risk patients with suspected cardiac chest pain directly from the Emergency Department (ED). Previously, such patients would have been admitted to a hospital bed for observation and delayed biomarker testing. While the drive to implement rapid rule-out strategies comes from healthcare providers, there has been little assessment of patient perspectives on early discharge, in what is known to be a high-anxiety presentation. We aimed to explore patient perspectives on the acceptability of early discharge strategies.
Methods This prospective quantitative survey was conducted on consecutive patients admitted from the ED to a short-stay ward for evaluation of suspected cardiac chest pain at a single centre in the UK. All patients were discharged within 36 hours with a diagnosis of low-risk chest pain. The written questionnaire was designed with closed answer questions with responses standardised along a 5-point Likert scale and was completed by patients upon discharge. Ethical approval was obtained.
Results Of 739 patients requested to complete the survey, 278 (37.6%) responded. Mean age 56.6 years (SD 13.4), 263/278 (94.6%) White British, mean length of stay 15.5 hours (SD 6.6), 6/278 (2.2%) had a major adverse event (MACE) at 30 days. Responders were more likely to be female than non-responders (49.6% vs 37.5%, p=0.001), otherwise groups were matched in age, cardiac risk factors, length of stay and the presence of MACE (p>0.05 for all).
The majority of patients, 197/278 (70.8%) would have been satisfied or very satisfied with early discharge directly from the ED, with 36/278 (13.0%) expressing dissatisfaction with a proposed rapid rule-out strategy. However, 249/277 (89.9%) of responders were reassured by admission to the ward and 112/273 (41.0%) felt they could not have spent any less time in hospital. Through binary logistic regression we analysed potential predictors of dissatisfaction with early discharge, these were sex, age, severity and type of pain at presentation, previous ischaemic heart disease, family history and found none were significant.
Conclusions Most patients would be satisfied with a rapid rule-out strategy, however, it should be acknowledged that patients receive reassurance from hospital admission and over 10% of patients would be dissatisfied with discharge direct from ED. Improved patient information and shared decision making is required when rapid discharge strategies are incorporated into practice.
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