Purpose The identification of patients at high risk for poor outcomes may allow for earlier palliative care and prevent futile interventions. We examined the association of presenting symptoms on risk of intensive care unit (ICU) admission and hospital death among patients with cancer admitted through an emergency department (ED). Methods We queried MDAnderson Cancer Center databases for all patients who visited the ED in 2010. Presenting symptoms, ICU admissions, and hospital deaths were reviewed; patient data analyzed; and risk factors for ICU admission and hospital mortality identified. Results The main presenting symptoms were pain, fever, and respiratory distress. Of the patients with cancer who visited the ED, 5,362 (58%) were admitted to the hospital at least once (range, 1 to 13 admissions), 697 (13%) were admitted to the ICU at least once, and 587 (11%) died during hospitalization (31% of 233 patients with hematologic malignancies and 27% of 354 patients with solid tumors died in the ICU; P <.001). In multivariable logistic regression, presenting symptoms of respiratory distress or altered mental status; lung cancer, leukemia, or lymphoma; and nonwhite race were independent predictors of hospital death. Patients who died had a longer median length of hospital stay than patients discharged alive (14 v 6 days for hematologic malignancies and 7 v 5 days for solid tumors; P <.001). Conclusion Patients with cancer admitted through an ED experience high ICU admission and hospital mortality rates. Patients with advanced cancer and respiratory distress or altered mental status may benefit from palliative care that avoids unnecessary interventions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy