Traub, Stephen J., Soroush Saghafian, Matthew R. Buras, and M'Hamed Temkit. "Resource Utilization in Emergency Department Patients with Known or Suspected Poisoning." Journal of Medical Toxicology (June 1, 2017).
Introduction Previous work has shown poisoning-related emergency department (ED) visits are increasing, and these visits are resource-intensive. Little is known, however, about how resource utilization for patients with known or suspected poisoning differs from that of general ED patients. Methods We reviewed 4 years of operational data at a single ED. We identified visits due to known or suspected poisoning (index cases), and paired them with time-matched controls. In the primary analysis, we compared the groups with respect to a broad array of resource utilization characteristics. In a secondary analysis, we performed the same comparison after excluding patients ultimately transferred to a psychiatric facility. Results There were 405 index cases and 802 controls in the primary analysis, and 374 index cases and 741 controls in the secondary analysis. In the primary/secondary analyses, patients with known or suspected poisoning had longer ED lengths of stay in minutes (370 vs. 232/295 vs. 234), higher rates of laboratory results per patient (40.4 vs. 26.8/39.6 vs. 26.8), greater administration of intravenous medications and fluids per patient (2.0 vs. 1.6/2.1 vs. 1.6), higher rates of transfer to a psychiatric facility (7.7 vs. 0.2%/not applicable), and higher rates of both admission (40.2 vs. 32.8/43.6 vs. 33.1%) and admission to an advanced care bed (21.5 vs. 7.6/23.3 vs. 7.8%). Patients with known or suspected poisoning had lower rates of imaging per patient, for both plain radiographs (0.4 vs. 0.5/0.4 vs. 0.5) and advanced imaging studies (0.3 vs. 0.5/0.4 vs. 0.5). Conclusions ED patients with known or suspected poisoning are more resource intensive than general ED patients. These results may have implications for both resource allocation (particularly for departments that might see a high volume of such patients) and ED operations management.