Evaluating an emergency department observation syncope protocol for older adults

  • Sun, Benjamin (PI)
  • McCreath, Heather (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This application addresses the broad Challenge Area (05): Comparative Effectiveness Research, and specific Challenge Topic: "05-AG-104. Planning grants and pilot studies for comparisons of management strategies for older patients with multiple coexisting conditions." Syncope, defined as a transient loss of consciousness, accounts for over 700,000 annual U.S. emergency department visits and may herald a life-threatening condition in older adults (agee60 years). Existing risk prediction instruments cannot reliably identify who among such older patients can safely be discharged home from an emergency department. As a result, the majority of older patients without a clear cause for syncope are hospitalized for diagnostic evaluation. However, current admission practices are characterized by low diagnostic yield, do not clearly improve outcomes, and account for over $2.4 billion in annual hospital costs. Most admitted patients are discharged within 48 hours, and approximately 50% of patients do not have an identified cause of syncope after their hospitalization. The implementation of an expedited and standardized Emergency Department Observation Syncope Protocol (EDOSP) may safely reduce hospitalization of older patients with syncope. We propose a pilot randomized trial to implement and evaluate EDOSP at two emergency departments. This study has the following exploratory Specific Aims: 1. To compare admission rates and length-of-stay associated with EDOSP to standard care. 2. To compare serious outcomes rates associated with EDOSP to standard care. 3. To compare quality-of-life associated with EDOSP to standard care. 4. To compare the incremental costs and cost-effectiveness of EDOSP to standard care. Over a one-year period, 120 intermediate-risk older adults who present with syncope at the two study sites will be randomized to 1 of 2 arms: 1.) intervention arm: expedited and standardized EDOSP care;or 2.) control arm: routine care consisting of admission from the emergency department. If this pilot trial suggests that EDOSP can safely reduce admissions, then we will plan a larger study powered to evaluate clinical, quality-of-life, and economic outcomes. A successful EDOSP intervention would have important clinical policy implications and improve the emergency department care of older adults with syncope. H Syncope, otherwise known as transient loss of consciousness, is a common reason for emergency department visits among older adults and may be a harbinger of a serious medical condition. The majority of older adults are hospitalized for further evaluation, although this practice has low diagnostic yield and is characterized by $2.4 billion in annual hospital costs. We will implement and evaluate an expedited and structured Emergency Department Syncope Observation Protocol to safely reduce unnecessary hospitalizations.
Effective start/end date9/30/098/31/12


  • National Institutes of Health: $283,117.00


  • Medicine(all)


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