Association of dyspnea, mortality, and resource use in hospitalised patients.

As many as 1 in 10 patients experience dyspnea at hospital admission but the relationship between dyspnea and patient outcomes is unknown. We sought to determine whether dyspnea on admission predicts outcomes.We conducted a retrospective cohort study in a single, academic medical center. We analysed 67 362 consecutive hospital admissions with available data on dyspnea, pain, and outcomes. As part of the Initial Patient Assessment by nurses, patients rated "breathing discomfort" using a 0 to 10 scale, (10="unbearable"). Patients reported dyspnea at the time of admission and recalled dyspnea experienced in the 24 h prior to admission. Outcomes included in-hospital mortality, 2-year mortality, length of stay, need for rapid response system activation, transfer to the intensive care unit, discharge to extended care, and 7- and 30-day all cause readmission to the same institution.Patients who reported any dyspnea were at an increased risk of death during that hospital stay; the greater the dyspnea, the greater the risk of death (dyspnea=0, 0.8% in-hospital mortality; dyspnea=1-3, 2.5% mortality; dyspnea ≥4, 3.7% mortality, p<0.001). After adjustment for patient comorbidities, demographics, and severity of illness, increasing dyspnea remained associated with inpatient mortality (dyspnea 1-3, aOR 2.1, 95% CI 1.7-2.6; dyspnea ≥4, aOR 3.1, 95% CI 2.4-3.9). Pain did not predict increased mortality. Patients reporting dyspnea also used more hospital resources, were more likely to be readmitted, and were at increased risk of death within 2 years (dyspnea=1-3 adjusted HR 1.5, 95% CI 1.3-1.6; dyspnea ≥4 adjusted HR 1.7, 95% CI 1.5-1.8).We found that dyspnea of any rating was associated with an increased risk of death. Dyspnea can be rapidly collected by nursing staff, which may allow for better monitoring or interventions that could reduce mortality and morbidity.


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Authors: Jennifer P Stevens, Tenzin Dechen, Richard M Schwartzstein, Carl O'Donnell, Kathy Baker, Robert B Banzett