COPD exacerbations in the emergency department: Epidemiology and related costs. A retrospective cohort multicentre study from the Italian Society of Emergency Medicine (SIMEU)

Published:January 22, 2018DOI:


      • AECOPDs accounts for 0.5% of ED visits in Italy.
      • Patients attending the ED for an AECOPD are old and frequently affected by several comorbidities.
      • The majority of patients are admitted, and costs are high.


      Acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPDs) frequently cause patients with COPD to access the emergency department and have a negative impact on the course of the disease. The objectives of our study were: 1) describing the socio-demographic and clinical characteristics, and the clinical management, of patients with AECOPD, when they present to the emergency department; and 2) estimating the costs related to the management of these patients. We conducted a retrospective cohort study in Italy, collecting data on 4396 patients, from 34 centres. Patients had a mean (SD) age of 76,6 (10.6) years, and 61.2% of them where males. >70% of the patients had a moderate to very high comorbidity burden, and heart failure was present in 26.4% of the cohort. The 64.6% of patients were admitted to hospital wards, with a mean (SD) length of stay of 10.8 (9.8) days. The estimated cost per patient was 2617 €. Conclusions: Patients attending the ED for an AECOPD are old and present important comorbidities. The rate of admission is high, and costs are remarkable.


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