Background: The peripheral venous blood gas (PVBG) has gained popularity over the arterial blood gas and electrolytes- urea-creatinine panel in non-critical situations in the emergency department (ED). Despite its convenience and rapid result return, it is costly and potentially over-utilized.
Aim: To assess the utility of point of care (POC) PVBG samples in predicting re-presentation of elderly patients (over the age of 65) to the ED within 72 hours, who were discharged without inpatient admission directly from ED.
Method: A retrospective audit was performed on patients of the above demographic, who presented to three Monash Health EDs between January 2011 and October 2015 and had a single POCPVBG sample taken. The individual POCPVBG values were compared between those who re-presented within 72 hours to those who did not, as were demographic data.
Results: In the 723 eligible cases in the study period, 127 (18%) re-presented within 72 hours whilst 596 (82%) did not. The median ages were similar 76 [70;82] and 77 [71;83] as was proportion of males (50%, 51%). The most common presenting complaints in both groups were shortness of breath and abdominal pain. Categorical analysis showed a statistically significant (p < 0.05) association between low base excess (Odd Ratio: 2.5; 95% Confidence Interval 1.2-4.9) and low potassium (OR: 2.5; 95% CI: 1.2-3.8) with re-presentation. However, these results had unclear clinical significance; the sensitivity and likelihood ratios for each were 16% and 2.2 and 15% and 1.9.
Conclusion: The PVBG may have some utility as a predictor of re-presentation in non-critical presentations of elderly patients to the ED. However, the role of a single POCPVBG sample in assessment of such patients remains unclear, and further research and guidelines need to be established to avoid over-utilization.
Kelly AM. Review article: Can venous blood gas analysis replace arterial in emergency medical care. Emerg Med Australas 2010; 22:493-8.
Lim BL, Kelly AM. A meta-analysis on the utility of peripheral venous blood gas analyses in exacerbations of chronic obstruction pulmonary disease in the emergency department. Eur J Emerg Med 2010; 17:246-8.
Malatesha G, Singh NK, Bharjia A, Rehani B, Goel A. Comaprison of arterial and venous pH, bicarbonate, PCO2 and PO2 in initial emergency department assessment. Emerg Med J 2007; 24:569-71.
Bloom BM, Grundlingh J, Bestwick JP, Harris T. The role of venous blood gas in the emergency department: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Emerg Med 2014; 21:81-8.
McCanny P, Bennett K, Staunton P, McMahon G. Venous vs arterial blood gases in the assessment of patients presenting with an exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Am J Emerg Med 2012; 30:896-900.
Kelly AM, Kerr D, Middleton P. Validation of venous pCO2 to screen for arterial hypercarbia in patients with chronic obstructive airways disease. J Emerg Med 2005; 28:377-9.
Abdelmessieh P, Bushra M. Peripheral Venous Blood Gas Analysis: Do Internists Believe in the Value of Its Use? Chest 2013; 144:536A.