Primary care physicians comprehensively manage acute pulmonary embolism without higher-level-of-care transfer: A report of two cases.
The evidence for outpatient pulmonary embolism (PE) management apart from hospitalization is expanding. The availability and ease of direct oral anticoagulants have facilitated this transition. The literature, however, is sparse on the topic of comprehensive management of pulmonary embolism in the primary care clinic setting. As such, the role of the primary care physician in the complete diagnosis, risk stratification for outpatient eligibility, and initiation of treatment is unclear. Case 1: A 33-year-old man with known heterozygous Factor V Leiden mutation and a remote history of deep vein thrombosis presented to his primary care physician's office with 2 days of mild pleuritic chest pain and a dry cough after a recent transcontinental flight. Case 2: A 48-year-old man with a complex medical history including recent transverse myelitis presented to his primary care family physician with dyspnea and pleuritic chest pain for 6 days. Case 1: Computed tomographic pulmonary angiography that same afternoon showed multiple bilateral segmental and subsegmental emboli as well as several small pulmonary infarcts. Case 2: The patient's D-dimer was elevated at 1148 ng/mL. His physician ordered a computed tomographic pulmonary angiography, performed that evening, which showed segmental and subsegmental PE. Both patients were contacted by their respective physicians shortly after their diagnoses and, in shared decision-making, opted for treatment at home with 5 days of enoxaparin followed by dabigatran. Neither patient developed recurrence nor complications in the subsequent 3 months. These cases, stratified as low risk using the American College of Chest Physicians criteria and the PE Severity Index, are among the first in the literature to illustrate comprehensive primary care-based outpatient PE management. Care was provided within an integrated delivery system with ready, timely access to laboratory, advanced radiology, and allied health services. This report sets the stage for investigating the public health implications of comprehensive primary care-based PE management, including cost-savings as well as enhanced patient follow-up and patient satisfaction.