Introduction: Atrial fibrillation and flutter (AFF) are the most common arrhythmias presenting to the emergency department. Without anticoagulation, AFF increases stroke risk; individuals with paroxysmal AFF have a similar prognosis. A coordinated ED AFF electronic order-set and management pathway was developed at our institution. The primary objective of this study was to measure rates of appropriate anticoagulation (AAC) on discharge from the ED for patients presenting with AFF not previously on antithrombotic or anticoagulant medications. Secondary objectives included comparison of the following outcomes pre and post-pathway (PRE & POST): AFF Clinic referral rates, ED return rates, and mortality. Methods: This was a retrospective case series of patients presenting to our quarternary care ED with AFF pre and post AFF pathway implementation. Cases were identified using an administrative database covering 120 000 annual ED visits. Trained research assistants and the primary investigator extracted data from the electronic medical record. 20% of all charts were double collected to ensure accuracy (k=0.85). Descriptive variables were described using counts, means, medians and confidence intervals. Chi-square statistics of dependent samples were calculated for the primary outcome. Results: We examined 307 cases of AFF presenting to our ED (n=130 PRE; n=177 POST). Demographic variables were similar PRE and POST: mean age (66.0 [95%CI 63.8-68.3] PRE; 65.0 [63.0-67.0] POST), % male (59.2% PRE; 59.3% POST), presenting rhythm (66.2% A.fib [58.0-74.3] A. flutter 29.2% [21.4-37.0] PRE; 61.0% A.fib [53.8-68.1] A. flutter 17.5% [11.9-23.1] POST), and CHADS2VASC score (2.1 [1.8-2.4] PRE; 1.9 [1.7-2.1] POST). The rate of AAC rose from 39.1% PRE to 77.8% POST (P < 0.01). AFF clinic referral rates increased from 16.9% PRE to 25.4% POST (not significant). ED return rates within 30 days for AFF, CHF, major bleeding and CVA were unchanged. 30 day mortality rates were not statistically different (1.5% PRE vs. 2.8% POST). Conclusion: The implementation of a coordinated ED AFF pathway was associated with significant improvements in the proportion of patients discharged with appropriate anticoagulation who had not previously been on antithrombotic or anticoagulant medications. ED return rates and mortality did not change significantly.
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