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J Emerg Med. 2016 Mar;50(3):394-402.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2015.08.010. Epub 2015 Oct 9.

Factors Associated with Hospitalization among Emergency Department Patients Referred for Quick Investigation of Iron-Deficiency Anemia.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital Clínic, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.



Although patients with anemia are frequently seen in emergency departments (EDs), studies on patients presenting there with symptomatic chronic anemia--usually iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) caused by occult gastrointestinal bleeding--are lacking. Awareness of predictors of hospitalization could direct the ED triage to the appropriate diagnostic setting.


Based on initial observations that some patients with IDA were hospitalized after ED referral and initial evaluation at a quick diagnosis unit (QDU), a new cost-effective alternative to hospitalization for diagnostic workup, this study aimed to determine the patient factors associated with hospitalization after the first QDU visit.


An 8-year prospective cohort study of patients with IDA referred from the ED to the QDU of a third-level university hospital was conducted. Patients with a baseline hemoglobin level of <9 g/dL in the ED, proven iron deficiency, and no overt bleeding were included. The primary outcome was hospitalization after the initial QDU assessment.


Two hundred eighty-four (7.7%) of 3692 patients were hospitalized. Inter-rater agreement of appropriateness of admissions was 90.6% (κ = 0.82). Overall, 90% of study patients presented to the ED with symptomatic anemia, and 87% were transfused there. On multivariate analysis, age ≥ 65 years, living alone, a post-transfusion hemoglobin level of <9 g/dL, higher age-adjusted overall comorbidity, heart failure, and poor physical health-related quality of life at first QDU visit independently predicted hospitalization.


While these predictors do not necessarily reflect the need for hospitalization, they are easily evaluated during the initial ED visit and can guide the triage of similar IDA patients to the suitable setting for timely investigation.


emergency department; hospitalization; iron-deficiency anemia; occult gastrointestinal bleeding; quick diagnosis units

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