San Francisco (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Same day discharge is generally safe after cardioverter defibrillator implantation for primary prevention, but it doesn’t save money.

Furthermore, guidelines are needed to standardize the practice as it becomes increasingly common in the United States, according to a 25-site investigation.

After implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) procedures, patients were monitored for 3-4 hours, and their devices were checked for proper functioning; 129 patients who were stable at that point were randomized to early discharge and 136 to next day discharge (NDD).

The overall 30-day procedural complication rate was 3.1% in the same day discharge (SDD) group and 1.6% in the NDD group, a nonsignificant difference (P = .37). Three patients in the SDD group developed hematomas that resolved on their own, and one had a cardiac perforation. One NDD patient dislodged a lead and another developed an infection. There were no differences in quality of life measures between the two groups at 30 days.

However, there were also no differences in procedural and perioperative direct costs, which was surprising because saving money is a major driver of SDD, and the most expensive part of ICD implantation is the first 24 hours. Direct per-patient medical costs in the study – estimated by applying hospital cost-to-charge ratios to the Medicare-reported charge – were $31,771 for SDD and $30,437 for NDD, but NDD was more expensive than SDD at several sites. The investigators suspect a flaw in their analysis related to the opaque nature of hospital accounting, and plan to look into the matter further with modeling to identify savings opportunities with SDD.

“We can insert ICDs on an outpatient basis, but this study will be difficult to replicate because clinical practice is moving towards SDD. In view of this, we think professional societies should be thinking of standardizing criteria for SDD; guidelines would help with the adoption of this approach. There are clinicians who are astute and have great clinical judgment, but there are others who need a scoring system. We believe that by using the 270,000 patients in the [American College of Cardiology’s ICD Registry ], there is the ability to identify patients who have low periprocedural risk,” said lead investigator Dr. Ranjit Suri , a cardiologist at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.

The study excluded patients receiving an ICD for secondary prevention, as well as those on periprocedural heparin and patients who were pacemaker dependent. SDD seemed safe otherwise, but it’s unknown “if our concept of low risk is acceptable to all implanting physicians,” Dr. Suri said at the annual scientific sessions of the Heart Rhythm Society.

The study groups were well matched. About 75% in each arm were men, and ischemic cardiomyopathy was the leading ICD indication. Patients were amenable to the idea of SDD; the advent of remote monitoring “adds a certain sense of safety” for both patients and physicians, he said.

Dr. Suri is a speaker for Boehringer Ingelheim and St. Jude Medical. He is also a consultant for Biosense Webster and Zoll, and receives research funding from St. Jude.