Hospitals aim to cut admissions for fainting spells

Fainting sends up to four million people to the emergency room per year, a major concern within the healthcare industry, especially as the population ages. As a result, hospitals and other stakeholders are working to identify fainting causes and cases serious enough to require hospitalization, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Six percent of hospital admissions are for patients who initially went to the ER for care after a fainting spell, also called syncope. The admissions cost the industry $2 billion a year, according to the article.

Concrete syncope guidelines have long been a work in progress, according to the WSJ. Cardiologist groups are currently in the process of revising them to cut down on unnecessary admissions. The last such guidelines were released in 2007 as the Boston Syncope Criteria, a set of protocols that identified 25 risk factors for adverse outcomes among syncope patients, which have helped providers target patients at risk for further complications.

Historically, many patients have trouble remembering the circumstances of their syncope, leaving few options but to undergo costly tests that may not turn up anything. One potential solution is to devote a specific unit to syncope patients, where doctors conduct in-depth questioning sessions that make diagnosis easier without testing. Too often, healthcare treats problems such as syncope as self-contained problems rather than potential symptoms of something more serious, according to surgeon and healthcare expert Atul Gawande, M.D., FierceHealthFinance reported previously.

Emergency department staff also have a major part to play in reducing unnecessary treatment or readmissions by making sure all syncope patients schedule timely follow-up visits after discharge from the ED, according to the article. Patients can also help themselves by doing exercises that hold off fainting responses such as crossing their legs or tensing their muscles.

To learn more:
- read the article