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Acad Emerg Med. 2007 Jan;14(1):6-14. Epub 2006 Nov 21.

Factors associated with hospital admission among emergency department patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation.

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Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.


OBJECTIVES To determine the patient factors associated with hospital admission among adults who present to the emergency department (ED) with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and to determine whether admissions were concordant with recommendations in the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines.


The authors performed a prospective multicenter cohort study involving 29 EDs in the United States and Canada. By using a standard protocol, consecutive ED patients with COPD exacerbation were interviewed, and their charts were reviewed. Predictors of admission were determined by multivariate logistic regression.


Of 384 patients, 233 (61%; 95% confidence interval = 56% to 66%) were admitted. Multivariate analysis showed that a higher likelihood of admission was associated with older age, female gender, more pack-years of smoking, recent use of inhaled corticosteroid, self-reported activity limitation in the past 24 hours, higher respiratory rate at ED presentation, and a concomitant diagnosis of pneumonia. Patients who reported the ED as their usual site for problem COPD care, or who had mixed COPD and asthma, were less likely to be admitted. The authors confirmed five of the seven testable indications for hospital admission in the GOLD guidelines.


Several patient factors were independently associated with hospital admission among ED patients with COPD exacerbations. Overall, concordance with admission recommendations in the GOLD guidelines was high. The authors also identified a few novel predictors of admission (female gender, ED as the usual site for problem COPD care, mixed diagnosis of COPD and asthma, recent use of inhaled corticosteroid) that require replication in future studies.

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