Update in Hospital Medicine Relays Important Findings

Thomas R. Collins, MDedge News

May 17, 2021

Two experts scoured the medical journals for the practice-changing research most relevant to hospital medicine in 2020 at a recent session at SHM Converge, the annual conference of the Society of Hospital Medicine.

The presenters chose findings they considered either practice changing or practice confirming, and in areas over which hospitalists have at least some control. Here is what they highlighted:

IV Iron Administration Before Hospital Discharge

In a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial across 121 centers in Europe, South America, and Singapore, 1,108 patients hospitalized with acute heart failure and iron deficiency were randomized to receive intravenous ferric carboxymaltose or placebo, with a first dose before discharge and a second at 6 weeks.

Those in the intravenous iron group had a significant reduction in hospitalizations for heart failure up to 52 weeks after randomization, but there was no significant reduction in deaths because of heart failure. There was no difference in serious adverse events.

Dr Anthony Breu

Anthony Breu, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston, said the findings should alter hospitalist practice.

"In patients hospitalized with acute heart failure and left ventricular ejection fraction of less than 50%, check iron studies and start IV iron prior to discharge if they have iron deficiency, with or without anemia," he said.

Apixaban Versus Dalteparin for Venous Thromboembolism in Cancer

This noninferiority trial involved 1,155 adults with cancer who had symptomatic or incidental acute proximal deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. The patients were randomized to receive oral apixaban or subcutaneous dalteparin for 6 months.

Patients in the apixaban group had a significantly lower rate of recurrent venous thromboembolism (P = .09), with no increase in major bleeds, Breu said. He noted that those with brain cancer and leukemia were excluded.

"In patients with cancer and acute venous thromboembolism, consider apixaban as your first-line treatment, with some caveats," he said.

Clinical Decision Rule for Penicillin Allergy

With fewer than 10% of patients who report a penicillin allergy actually testing positive on a standard allergy test, a simpler way to predict an allergy would help clinicians, said Shoshana Herzig, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Dr Shoshana Herzig

A 622-patient cohort that had undergone penicillin allergy testing was used to identify factors that could help predict an allergy. A scoring system called PEN-FAST was developed based on five factors – a penicillin allergy reported by the patient, 5 years or less since the last reaction (2 points); anaphylaxis or angioedema, or severe cutaneous adverse reaction (2 points); and treatment being required for the reaction (1 point).

Researchers, after validation at three sites, found that a score below a threshold identified a group that had a 96% negative predictive value for penicillin allergy skin testing.

"A PEN-FAST score of less than 3 can be used to identify patients with reported penicillin allergy who can likely proceed safely to oral challenge," Herzig said. She said the findings would benefit from validation in an inpatient setting.

Prehydration Before Contrast-Enhanced Computed Tomography in CKD

Previous studies have found that omitting prehydration was noninferior to volume expansion with isotonic saline, and this trial looked at omission versus sodium bicarbonate hydration.

Participants were 523 adults with stage 3 chronic kidney disease who were getting elective outpatient CT with contrast. They were randomized to either no prehydration or prehydration with 250 mL of 1.4% sodium bicarbonate an hour before CT.

Researchers found that postcontrast acute kidney injury was rare even in this high-risk patient population overall, and that withholding prehydration was noninferior to prehydration with sodium bicarbonate, Herzig said.

Gabapentin for Alcohol Use Disorder in Those With Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Breu noted that only about one in five patients with alcohol use disorder receive medications to help preserve abstinence or to reduce drinking, and many medications target cravings but not symptoms of withdrawal.

In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial at a single academic outpatient medical center in South Carolina, 90 patients were randomized to receive titrated gabapentin or placebo for 16 weeks.

Researchers found that, among those with abstinence of at least 2 days, gabapentin reduced the number of days of heavy drinking and the days of any drinking, especially in those with high symptoms of withdrawal.

"In patients with alcohol use disorder and high alcohol withdrawal symptoms, consider gabapentin to help reduce heavy drinking or maintain abstinence," Breu said.

Hospitalist Continuity of Care and Patient Outcomes

In a retrospective study examining all medical admissions of Medicare patients with a 3- to 6-day length of stay, and in which all general medical care was provided by hospitalists, researchers examined the effects of continuity of care. Nearly 115,000 patient stays were included in the study, which covered 229 Texas hospitals.

The stays were grouped into quartiles of continuity of care, based on the number of hospitalists involved in a patient's stay. Greater continuity was associated with lower 30-day mortality, with a linear relationship between the two. Researchers also found costs to be lower as continuity increased.

"Efforts by hospitals and hospitalist groups to promote working schedules with more continuity," Herzig said, "could lead to improved postdischarge outcomes."

This article originally appeared on The Hospitalist, an official publication of the Society of Hospital Medicine.

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