From the Journals

Some PE patients don’t require hospitalization



A new study suggests that certain patients with acute pulmonary embolism (PE) may be better off receiving outpatient treatment.

Researchers tested outpatient anticoagulant therapy in 200 patients with PE with a low mortality risk. At 90 days of follow-up, there were no deaths or recurrences of venous thromboembolism (VTE), but one patient experienced major bleeding after a traumatic injury.

A majority of patients said they were satisfied with outpatient care.

Joseph R. Bledsoe, MD, of Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, and his colleagues reported these results in Chest.

The researchers tracked patients who were treated for acute PE in five Intermountain Healthcare emergency departments (EDs) from 2013 to 2016. The patients had to have a low mortality risk according to the Pulmonary Embolism Severity Index (score less than 86), echocardiography (no signs of right heart strain), and whole-leg compression ultrasound. Patients could not have deep vein thrombosis proximal to the popliteal vein, hypoxia, hypotension, hepatic failure, or renal failure. They had to be eligible for therapeutic anticoagulation and could not have any condition requiring hospitalization.

With these criteria, the researchers selected 200 patients. They were observed in the ED or hospital for 12-24 hours and then discharged with anticoagulant therapy. Patients received rivaroxaban (n = 149), enoxaparin transitioned to warfarin (n = 26), apixaban (n = 24), or enoxaparin alone (n = 1).


The study’s primary outcome was the 90-day composite rate of all-cause mortality, recurrent symptomatic VTE, and major bleeding. There were no deaths and no cases of recurrent VTE, but one patient did experience major bleeding at day 61 because of a traumatic thigh injury.

Within 7 days of study enrollment, there were 19 patients (9.5%) who returned to the ED and 2 patients (1%) who were admitted to the hospital. One patient with pulmonary infarct was admitted for pain control (day 2); the other was admitted for an elective coronary intervention (day 7) because of a positive cardiac stress test.

Within 30 days, 32 patients (16%) returned to the ED, and 5 (3%) were admitted to the hospital for events unrelated to their PE.

The study also showed that patients were largely satisfied with outpatient care. Of the 146 patients who completed a satisfaction survey at 90 days, 89% said they would choose outpatient management if they had another PE in the future.

“We found a large subset of patients with blood clots who’d do well at home; in fact, who probably did better at home,” Dr. Bledsoe said. “When patients are sent home versus staying in the hospital, they’re at lower risk of getting another infection. It’s a lot less expensive, too.”

Currently, the standard of care in the United States for acute PE is hospitalization for all patients. That’s recommended, in part, because their overall mortality rate is 17%. However, the lower mortality rate among some appropriately risk-stratified patients suggests that at-home care, which has become the norm in some European countries, leads to better outcomes for those patients overall and less chance of a hospital-introduced infection, according to Dr. Bledsoe. “Our findings show that if you appropriately risk-stratify patients, there are a lot of people with blood clots who are safe to go home.”

He added that similar research should be conducted outside of the Intermountain Healthcare system to confirm the results of this study and that a larger group of patients should be studied.

The investigators reported no conflicts related to this study.

SOURCE: Bledsoe JR et al. Chest. 2018 Aug;154(2):249-56.

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