Application of Syncope Guidelines in the Emergency Department Do Not Reduce Admission Rates: A Retrospective Cohort Study Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Low-risk syncope accounts for a large proportion of hospital admissions; however, inpatient investigations are often not necessary and are rarely diagnostic. Reducing the number of low-risk syncope admissions can likely lower health care resource consumption and overall expenditure. Application of syncope guidelines by physicians in the emergency department provides a standardized approach that may potentially reduce admissions and lead to health care resource utilization savings. METHODS: A retrospective chart review of 1229 syncope presentations was conducted at 2 major academic centres spanning 1 year. Three major society guidelines and position statements were applied to determine the effect on admission rates. RESULTS: A total of 1031 true syncope charts were included in the analysis; 407 (39%) were admitted and 624 (61%) were discharged by the treating physician (MD). There was a significant difference in the mean [standard deviation] age (75 [14] vs 55 [22]) and baseline cardiovascular disease, including congestive heart failure 51/407 (13%) vs 28/624 (5%), coronary artery disease 125/407 (31%) vs 91/624 (15%), and structural heart disease 36/407 (9%) vs 26/624 (4%), between admitted and not admitted patients, respectively (P < 0.01). All guidelines warranted more low-risk admissions when compared with 19% by the MD: Canadian Cardiovascular Society 34% (P < 0.01), American College of Emergency Physicians 22% (P = 0.03), and European Society of Cardiology 26% (P < 0.01). CONCLUSION: In conclusion, application of the current syncope guidelines to an emergency department population is unlikely to reduce low-risk hospital admissions.


  • Deif, Bishoy
  • Kang, Sally
  • Ismail, Abid
  • Vanniyasingam, Thuva
  • Guzman, Juan Camilo
  • Morillo, Carlos A

publication date

  • September 2018