skip to Main Content

Comprehensive Outpatient Management of Low-Risk Pulmonary Embolism: Can Primary Care Do This? A Narrative Review

The evidence for outpatient management of hemodynamically stable, low-risk patients with acute symptomatic pulmonary embolism (PE) is mounting. Guidance in identifying patients who are eligible for outpatient (ambulatory) care is available in the literature and society guidelines. Less is known about who can identify patients eligible for outpatient management and in what clinical practice settings. To answer the question, “Can primary care do this?” (provide comprehensive outpatient management of low-risk PE). We undertook a narrative review of the literature on the outpatient management of acute PE focusing on site of care. We searched the English-language literature in PubMed and Embase from January 1, 1950, through July 15, 2019. We identified 26 eligible studies. We found no studies that evaluated comprehensive PE management in a primary care clinic or general practice setting. In 19 studies, the site-of-care decision making occurred in the Emergency Department (or after a short period of supplemental observation) and in 7 studies the decision occurred in a specialty clinic. We discuss the components of care involved in the diagnosis, outpatient eligibility assessment, treatment, and follow-up of ambulatory patients with acute PE. We see no formal reason why a trained primary care physician could not provide comprehensive care for select patients with low-risk PE. Leading obstacles include lack of ready access to advanced pulmonary imaging and the time constraints of a busy outpatient clinic. Until studies establish safe parameters of such a practice, the question “Can primary care do this?” must remain open.

Authors: Vinson DR; Aujesky D; Geersing GJ; Roy PM

Perm J. 2020;24. Epub 2020-03-13.

PubMed abstract

Explore all studies and publications

Back To Top