Evaluation of Early Pregnancy Concerns in an Early Pregnancy Unit Compared With an Emergency Department

OBJECTIVE To assess total time for evaluation of women with first-trimester pregnancy concerns in an early pregnancy unit compared with an emergency department (ED) within a single safety net hospital system.
METHODS We performed a retrospective cohort study at Denver Health Medical Center from May 1, 2017, to April 30, 2018. All patients who presented to the early pregnancy unit and a random sample of patients who presented to the ED were identified, stratified by month. Patients were eligible if they were aged 12-55 years, hemodynamically stable, in the first trimester with a positive pregnancy test, and without a prior ultrasonogram. Evaluation time was calculated as difference between registration or check-in and the discharge time. We extracted patient demographics, reproductive histories, presenting symptoms, diagnosis, and management plans at time of discharge from the electronic medical record. Descriptive statistics and multivariate analyses were performed. Lastly, a preliminary analysis of total charges was conducted.
RESULTS Of 250 patients originally identified, 165 met inclusion criteria (79 from the early pregnancy unit and 86 from the ED). There was no statistical difference in race, ethnicity, or insurance type between groups. Median evaluation time was significantly reduced in the early pregnancy unit compared with the ED (45 minutes [interquartile range 31-61] vs 236 minutes [interquartile range 173-307], respectively, P<.001). After adjusting for patient characteristics and clinical presentation, the average total evaluation time among patients in the early pregnancy unit (36 minutes) was 80% lower compared with patients in the ED (180 minutes). Median evaluation charges were significantly less for patients in the early pregnancy unit compared with those in the ED ($586.22 [interquartile range 384.83-757.34] vs $1,350.97 [interquartile range 975.77-3,553.62], respectively, P<.001).
CONCLUSION Time and charges for evaluation of women with first-trimester pregnancy concerns were significantly lower in an early pregnancy unit compared with an ED. Early pregnancy units should be considered as an alternative care model for patients in the first trimester of pregnancy in the United States.

as reported in: Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Oct 8 [Epub ahead of print]