What Factors Cause Frequent ER Visits in Patients With Head and Neck Cancer?

Patients with head and neck cancer who have more comorbidities and higher socioeconomic status are more likely to frequent the emergency department (ED), according to a study published in Head & Neck.

Using deidentified registry information and electronic medical record data, this retrospective cohort study included 593 (median age, 63 years; 70% male) Singapore residents with head and neck cancers.

The median number of ED visits was two (range, 1-4 visits). Most of the patients had high comorbidity (defined as a Charlson Comorbidity Index [CCI] score of three or more; n=294; 59%). The most common cancer site was oral (48%), followed by larynx (20%) and hypopharynx (10%).

Factors associated with trips to the emergency room

Among the cohort, 13% of patients (n=77) were frequent attenders to the ED. Those with a CCI of three or more (odds ratio = 3.92; 95% CI, 2.29-7.01) and a higher socioeconomic status were more likely to end up in the ED. Smoking status and cancer site were similar between frequent and non-frequent attenders.

Those who more often frequented the ED were more likely to present with respiratory complaints, likely related to cancer treatment, or smoking status.