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Effect of early physician follow-up on mortality and subsequent hospital admissions after emergency care for heart failure: a retrospective cohort study [Research]


The 1-year mortality rate in patients with heart failure who are discharged from an emergency department is 20%. We sought to determine whether early follow-up after discharge from the emergency department was associated with decreased mortality or subsequent admission to hospital.


This retrospective cohort study conducted in Ontario, Canada, included adult patients who were discharged from 1 of 163 emergency departments between April 2007 and March 2014 with a primary diagnosis of heart failure. Using a propensity score–matched landmark analysis, we assessed follow-up in relation to mortality and admissions to hospital for cardiovascular conditions.


Of 34 519 patients, 16 274 (47.1%) obtained follow-up care within 7 days and 28 846 (83.6%) within 30 days. Compared with follow-up between day 8 and 30, patients with follow-up care within 7 days had a lower rate of mortality over 1 year (hazard ratio [HR] 0.92; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.87–0.97), and a reduced rate of admission to hospital over 90 days (HR 0.87, 95% CI 0.80–0.94) and 1 year (HR 0.92; 95% CI 0.87–0.97); the mortality rate over 90 days in this group trended to a lower rate (HR 0.90, 95% CI 0.10–1.00). Follow-up care within 30 days, compared with patients without 30-day follow-up, was associated with a reduction in 1-year mortality (HR 0.89, 95% CI 0.82–0.97) but not admission to hospital (HR 1.02, 95% CI 0.94–1.10). In this group, there was a trend toward an increase in 90-day admission to hospital (HR 1.14, 95% CI 1.00–1.29).


Follow-up care within 7 days of discharge from the emergency department was associated with lower rates of long-term mortality, as well as subsequent hospital admissions, and a trend to lower short-term mortality rates. Timely access to longitudinal care for patients with heart failure who are discharged from the emergency setting should be prioritized.