Emergency department visits and readmissions in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) at a safety net hospital

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Introduction: Readmissions and emergency department (ED) visits after an index admission have been become a quality measure due to associations with poor outcomes and increased healthcare costs. Readmissions and ED encounters have been studied in a variety of conditions including epilepsy but have not been examined exclusively in psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES). In this study we examined the rate of readmissions and ED visits after a discharge from an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) in a safety net hospital. We also determined patient phenotypes that are associated with readmissions. Material and methods: This was a retrospective chart review study with index admission being a discharge from an EMU between January 1 and December 31 2016 with follow-up until August 31 2020. We obtained data regarding demographics, medical and psychiatric history, and social history and treatment interventions. Our outcome variables were both all-cause and seizure-related hospital readmissions and ED visits 30 days following the index discharge and readmissions and ED visits 30 days thereafter. Results: Eleven of 122 patients (9%) had a non-seizure-related ED visit and/or hospitalization within 30 days of index discharge while 45 (37%) had re-contact with the health system thereafter for non-seizure-related issues. Seven of 122 patients (6%) had a seizure-related ED visit or hospital readmission within 30 days of discharge. Twenty-eight (23%) had a seizure-related readmission or ED visit after 30 days. Of these 28, 4 patients had been to an ER within 7 days of EMU discharge. The majority of subsequent encounters with the healthcare system were through the ED (n = 38) as compared to hospital (n = 10) and EMU readmissions (n = 9). On bivariate statistical analysis, charity or self-pay insurance status (p < 0.01), homelessness (p < 0.01), emergent EMU admission on index admission (p < 0.01), history of a psychiatric diagnosis (p < 0.02), and ED encounters 12 months prior to admission (p < 0.01) were significantly associated with readmission; however, on multivariate analysis only charity insurance status was a significant predictor. Conclusions: In this study of readmissions and ED visits after discharge with a diagnosis of PNES at a safety net hospital, we found a seizure-related readmission rate of approximately 6% in 30 days and 23% thereafter with the majority of re-contact with the hospital being in the ED. On multi-variate analysis insurance status was a significant factor associated with readmission and ED visits. Our future research directions include examining referrals and treatment completion at the hospital's PNES clinic as well as creating a risk score to better identify patients with PNES at risk of readmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108225
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Emergency department
  • Epilepsy monitoring unit
  • Hospital readmission
  • Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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