These findings show a strong association between mortality and hypoglycemia but do not prove causality. Hospitalists caring for ICU patients must be aware that hypoglycemia is associated with mortality and focus on avoiding hypoglycemia. The American Diabetes Association currently recommends a target blood glucose level of 140 to 180 mg/dL for most critically ill patients.
Bottom line: Hypoglycemia (glucose <70 mg/dL) is associated with increased risk of mortality in ICU patients.
Citation: Finfer S, Chittock DR, Su SY, et al. Hypoglycemia and risk of death in critically ill patients. New Engl J Med. 2012;367(12):1108-1118.
Increased Bleeding Risk for Cardiac Patients on Multiple Antithrombotic Drugs
Clinical question: Is there an increased risk of bleeding in atrial fibrillation patients treated with multiple antithrombotic agents following acute myocardial infarction (MI) or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)?
Background: Current treatment for atrial fibrillation patients with MI or PCI includes vitamin K antagonist (VKA) therapy to prevent stroke and antiplatelet agents to prevent further coronary events. There are inconsistent findings on the safety and efficacy of combined therapy with VKA, aspirin, and clopidogrel, specifically with regard to bleeding risk.
Study design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: Nationwide registry in Denmark.
Synopsis: Using the National Patient Registry in Denmark, 11,480 patients with atrial fibrillation who were admitted for MI or PCI were identified. Patients were grouped by medication regimen, including monotherapy (aspirin, clopidogrel, or VKA), dual therapy (dual antiplatelet or VKA+antiplatelet), or triple therapy (VKA+aspirin+clopidogrel). The primary outcome was nonfatal or fatal bleeding within one year.
Patients receiving triple therapy had the highest rate of bleeding, with a crude incidence of 14.2 events per 100 person-years. Patients treated with VKA+aspirin+clopidogel were significantly more likely than those on VKA+antiplatelet (HR 1.47, 95% CI 1.04-2.08) or dual antiplatelet (HR 2.20, 95% CI 1.58-3.08) treatment to have a bleeding event within 90 days, and similar trends were seen at 90 to 360 days. There was no significant difference in thromboembolic events among patients on VKA+aspirin+clopidogrel versus VKA+antiplatelet therapy.
Only bleeding events that required hospitalization were recorded, which might underestimate the bleeding risks of these regimens. Additionally, INR levels were not determined, which could impact both bleeding and thromboembolic outcomes.
However, this study does suggest that there are significant bleeding risks among patients treated with triple therapy. Hospitalists should weigh the risks of thromboembolic events with bleeding risks in patients with atrial fibrillation and MI/PCI, and only prescribe VKA+aspirin+clopidogrel with these risks in mind.
Bottom line: Immediate and continued bleeding risk is increased in patients with atrial fibrillation admitted with PCI or MI who are placed on triple antithrombotic therapy with VKA+aspirin+clopidogrel.
Citation: Lamberts M, Olesen JB, Ruwald MH, et al. Bleeding after initiation of multiple antithrombotic drugs, including triple therapy, in atrial fibrillation patients following myocardial infarction and coronary intervention. Circulation. 2012;126:1185-1193.
Hospitalist-Run Preoperative Clinic Improves Outcomes in Complex Surgical Patients
Clinical question: Do hospitalist-run preoperative clinics improve outcomes for medically complex patients undergoing noncardiac surgery compared to traditional anesthesiologist-run preoperative clinics?
Background: Studies of perioperative medical consultation have shown inconsistent effects on quality of care, but preoperative medical consultation has only been evaluated in the immediate preoperative period (one day prior to surgery or less). Little is known about the impact of involving hospitalists earlier in the preoperative period.
Study design: Retrospective, pre-post study.
Setting: Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS).
Synopsis: In July 2004, the VAGLAHS Preoperative Clinic transitioned from being anesthesiologist-run to hospitalist-run. Mid-level providers were trained on preoperative medical assessment, and patients were only evaluated by anesthesia staff on the day of surgery, after they had been deemed medically acceptable for surgery. All patients seen in the clinic from July 2003 to July 2005 were included in the study. Period A included patients evaluated when anesthesia staff supervised the clinic. Period B included patients evaluated during the first year of the hospitalist-run system.