Background: Few studies have evaluated emergency department (ED) observation unit chest pain protocols for optimal patient characteristics and admission rates. At our 35 000-visits/y ED, we implemented a chest pain protocol for our observation unit that allowed emergency physicians to admit patients with known coronary artery disease (CAD). Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review of all observation unit patients admitted under the chest pain protocol from April 1, 2006, to May 31, 2007. We compared the outcomes of patients who had a history of CAD with those who did not. Results: Five hundred thirty-one patients were admitted to the observation unit under the chest pain protocol for the 14-month study period. Of these patients, 125 (23.5%) had a history of CAD. Patients with a history of CAD had a higher inpatient admission rate ( 24% vs 8.6%; P < .001), higher rate of a positive stress test or positive coronary computed tomographic scan (32.3% vs 6.9%; P < .001), a higher rate of cardiac catheterization (12% vs 5.9%; P = .02), and a higher rate of stent placement or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) (7.2% vs 2.2%; P = .007). In multivariate analysis, patient history of CAD was an independent predictor of hospital admission (P = .005) and stent placement or CABG (P = .030). Conclusion: Patients with known CAD who were admitted to the ED observation unit failed observation status (ie, required hospitalization) and had higher rates of positive testing than those without CAD. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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