The incidence and health care costs of gout flares have increased in the United States. The increased costs may be a result of a lack of adherence to treatment guidelines and medication knowledge. Identifying causes for this trend is vital to mitigate inappropriate resource use.
The aim was to identify pharmacotherapy use related to gout treatment before, during hospital visit or stay, and on discharge in patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with gout flares. Secondary end points included opioid use, revisit rates, and associated risk factors.
We performed a retrospective cohort study at a community teaching hospital ED. All consecutive patients visiting the ED from January 2016 to July 2019 with a primary diagnosis of gout flare were included. Data were extracted from the electronic medical records.
The analysis included 214 patients. Anti-inflammatory medication was not prescribed in 33.6% during the hospital visit and 29.6% of patients on discharge. History of opioid use (odds ratio [OR] = 3.3; 95% CI = 1.3-8.6; = 0.014) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (OR = 3.5; 95% CI = 1.09-10.9; = 0.035) were associated with opioid prescription on discharge. ED revisits within 90 days for any gout-related or non-gout-related cause were recorded in 16.8% of patients.
Roughly 30% of patients did not receive an anti-inflammatory on discharge, and opioids were frequently overused in gout management in the ED. There is an opportunity for further education of health care providers regarding gout treatment.