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Papers of the Week

2022 Feb




Factors Associated With Repeat Emergency Department Visits for Low Back Pain.


Megalla M, Ogedegbe C, Sanders AM, Cox N, DiSanto T, Johnson H, Kelly M, Koerner JD
Cureus. 2022 Feb; 14(2):e21906.
PMID: 35265428.


Background Low back pain represents 2-3% of Emergency Department (ED) visits. In this study, we aimed to identify patient and treatment-related variables that contributed to repeat visits to the ED for low back pain within a 12-month period. Methodology We conducted a retrospective review of adult patients presenting to the ED of one hospital over a two-year period with the primary diagnosis of low back pain. The primary outcome included return to the ED within 12 months with the same complaint, and the secondary outcome included return to the ED within 30 days or six months. Results A total of 793 patients met the inclusion criteria. The rate of return to the ED with the same complaint within 30 days, six months, and 12 months of the first visit was 7%, 11%, and 14%, respectively. Patients who received opioids at discharge were more likely to return within 12 months (68% vs. 55%; p = 0.0075) and six months (68% vs. 56%; p = 0.0184) compared to those who did not receive opioids at discharge. Undergoing an X-ray decreased the odds of a 30-day return visit by 70% (p = 0.0067), and by 59% within 12 months (p = 0.0032). Receiving opioids at discharge also doubled the odds of return within 12 months (odds ratio = 2.030, p = 0.0183), while receiving nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduced the odds by 60% (p = 0.0028). Conclusions Patients who received opioids at discharge were more likely to have a return visit for low back pain within six and 12 months. Patients who underwent X-rays at the index visit and were prescribed NSAIDs at discharge were less likely to return to the ED for low back pain.