Clinical Review| Volume 54, ISSUE 5, P636-644, May 2018

Can I Send This Patient with Stroke Home? Strategies Managing Transient Ischemic Attack and Minor Stroke in the Emergency Department



      While transient ischemic attack and minor stroke (TIAMS) are common conditions evaluated in the emergency department (ED), there is controversy regarding the most effective and efficient strategies for managing them in the ED. Some patients are discharged after evaluation in the ED and cared for in the outpatient setting, while others remain in an observation unit without being admitted or discharged, and others experience prolonged and potentially costly inpatient admissions.

      Objective of the Review

      The goal of this clinical review was to summarize and present recommendations regarding the disposition of TIAMS patients in the ED (e.g., admission vs. discharge).


      An estimated 250,000 to 300,000 TIA events occur each year in the United States, with an estimated near-term risk of subsequent stroke ranging from 3.5% to 10% at 2 days, rising to 17% by 90 days. While popular and easy to use, reliance solely on risk-stratification tools, such as the ABCD2, should not be used to determine whether TIAMS patients can be discharged safely. Additional vascular imaging and advanced brain imaging may improve prediction of short-term neurologic risk. We also review various disposition strategies (e.g., inpatient vs. outpatient/ED observation units) with regard to their association with neurologic outcomes, such as 30-day or 90-day stroke recurrence or new stroke, in addition to other outcomes, such as hospital length of stay and health care costs.


      Discharge from the ED for rapid outpatient follow-up may be a safe and effective strategy for some forms of minor stroke without disabling deficit and TIA patients after careful evaluation and initial ED workup. Future research on such strategies has the potential to improve neurologic and overall patient outcomes and reduce hospital costs and ED length of stay.


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