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Management and Outcomes of Adults Diagnosed with Acute Pulmonary Embolism in Primary Care: Community-Based Retrospective Cohort Study

The management and outcomes of patients diagnosed with acute pulmonary embolism in primary care have not been characterized. To describe 30-day outcomes stratified by initial site-of-care decisions DESIGN: Multicenter retrospective cohort study PARTICIPANTS: Adults diagnosed with acute pulmonary embolism in primary care in a large, diverse community-based US health system (2013-2019) MAIN MEASURES: The primary outcome was a composite of 30-day serious adverse events (recurrent venous thromboembolism, major bleeding, and all-cause mortality). The secondary outcome was 7-day pulmonary embolism-related hospitalization, either initial or delayed. Among 652 patient encounters (from 646 patients), median age was 64 years; 51.5% were male and 70.7% identified as non-Hispanic white. Overall, 134 cases (20.6%) were sent home from primary care and 518 cases (79.4%) were initially referred to the emergency department (ED) or hospital. Among the referred, 196 (37.8%) were discharged home from the ED without events. Eight patients (1.2%; 95% CI 0.5-2.4%) experienced a 30-day serious adverse event: 4 venous thromboemboli (0.6%), 1 major bleed (0.2%), and 3 deaths (0.5%). Seven of these patients were initially hospitalized, and 1 had been sent home from primary care. All 3 deaths occurred in patients with known metastatic cancer initially referred to the ED, hospitalized, then enrolled in hospice following discharge. Overall, 328 patients (50.3%) were hospitalized within 7 days: 322 at the time of the index diagnosis and 6 following initial outpatient management (4 clinic-only and 2 clinic-plus-ED patients). Patients diagnosed with acute pulmonary embolism in this primary care setting uncommonly experienced 30-day adverse events, regardless of initial site-of-care decisions. Over 20% were managed comprehensively by primary care. Delayed 7-day pulmonary embolism-related hospitalization was rare among the 51% treated as outpatients. Primary care management of acute pulmonary embolism appears to be safe and could have implications for cost-effectiveness and patient care experience.

Authors: Vinson, David R; Reed, Mary E; Mark, Dustin G; PEPC Investigators of the KP CREST Network,; et al.

J Gen Intern Med. 2022 11;37(14):3620-3629. Epub 2022-01-12.

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