Background Patients who present to the emergency department (ED) with mild skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) are often given a single dose of an antibiotic before being discharged home on oral antibiotics. The objective of this study was to determine if administration of antibiotics in the ED increases length of stay. Methods This was cross-sectional study using data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Patients with SSTIs who were discharged home with antibiotics were included. Patients were categorized into 2 groups based on whether any antibiotics were administered in the ED. The ED length of stay was compared between the groups. A multivariate analysis was conducted to adjust for pertinent confounders. Results There were 3 000 895 cases of patients with SSTIs who presented to the ED and directly discharged home on antibiotic therapy from 2008 to 2010. Of these, 46.8% (n = 1 403 710) involved the administration of an antibiotic in the ED, whereas the others only received antibiotic prescriptions upon discharge. The mean ED length of stay was 83.8 ± 160.6 minutes with no antibiotics vs 112.2 ± 193.6 minutes for antibiotic use in the ED (P <.05). After adjusting for confounders, there was a 43% increase in ED length of stay associated with administration of first dose of antibiotics in the ED (exp[b] = 1.43; 95% confidence interval, 1.19-1.70; P <.001). Conclusion The administration of an antibiotic in the ED before discharge is associated with an increased ED length of stay in patients with SSTIs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine