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Barriers to Emergency Department Utilization of AFIB Protocol in Uncomplicated Lone AFIB Patients

Background: Historically, atrial fibrillation (AFIB) management has focused on rate control and anticoagulation, necessitating hospital admission. Recently, some emergency departments (EDs) have implemented protocols to avoid hospital admission when managing lone AFIB. Despite this recent trend, there is still reluctance toward the implementation of these protocols by some emergency physicians (EPs). Objective: This study investigates barriers to implementation of ED AFIB protocols by surveying which aspects may impede their use. Methods: To analyze the perceived barriers from EPs, we formulated a survey assessing the various components of ED AFIB management to identify which aspects might impede EP utilization. It was distributed as an email to large national ED physician group. Data was analyzed using descriptive means and weighted averages. Results: Of 185 respondents (response rate 6.1%), 17.4% already had AFIB protocols in place at their home institutions and 82.6% did not. Majority opinion of largest barriers toward the implementation of AFIB protocols were the extended ED length of stay and discharge with unclear follow-up. There was little concern with chemical and electrical cardioversion and very limited concern with rate control and initiating oral anticoagulation. EPs supported placement in Observation for implementation and involvement of discharge planning to establish prescriptions and follow-up. Conclusion: EP input regarding the development of ED AFib protocols will be essential in order to develop cost effective, convenient and safe methods of treatment. This survey of EP suggests that ED length of stay and insuring close outpatient follow up are key issues to address as protocols are designed.

Credits: T Britt DO; JP Janson DO; T Knisely MPH; VA LaBond MD

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Introduction to AFib
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