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Am Heart J. 2013 May;165(5):725-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2013.02.017. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

Access to heart failure care post emergency department visit: do we meet established benchmarks and does it matter?

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Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



The Canadian Cardiology Society recommends that patients should be seen within 2 weeks after an emergency department (ED) visit for heart failure (HF). We sought to investigate whether patients who had an ED visit for HF subsequently consult a physician within the current established benchmark, to explore factors related to physician consultation, and to examine whether delay in consultation is associated with adverse events (AEs) (death, hospitalization, or repeat ED visit).


Patients were recruited by nurses at 8 hospital EDs in Québec, Canada, and interviewed by telephone within 6 weeks of discharge and subsequently at 3 and 6 months. Clinical variables were extracted from medical charts by nurses. We used Cox regression in the analysis.


We enrolled 410 patients (mean age 74.9 ± 11.1 years, 53% males) with a confirmed primary diagnosis of HF. Only 30% consulted with a physician within 2 weeks post-ED visit. By 4 weeks, 51% consulted a physician. Over the 6-month follow-up, 26% returned to the ED, 25% were hospitalized, and 9% died. Patients who were followed up within 4 weeks were more likely to be older and have higher education and a worse quality of life. Patients who consulted a physician within 4 weeks of ED discharge had a lower risk of AEs (hazard ratio 0.59, 95% CI 0.35-0.99).


Prompt follow-up post-ED visit for HF is associated with lower risk for major AEs. Therefore, adherence to current HF guideline benchmarks for timely follow-up post-ED visit is crucial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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