Factors Associated With a Discharge Against Medical Advice From an Emergency Department in Adult Patients With Appendicitis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The Journal of emergency medicine




appendicitis; discharge against medical advice; racial disparities


BACKGROUND: Delays in care can lead to worsened outcomes with acute appendicitis. To get timely treatment, patients must consent. OBJECTIVE: To determine if there are racial and socioeconomic differences in discharge against medical advice (DAMA) rates from an emergency department after the diagnosis of acute appendicitis. METHODS: Patients were identified retrospectively from the 2019 National Emergency Department Sample. The inclusion criteria were patients 18 years of age or older with acute appendicitis. Rates were compared using chi-square or Fisher's exact test. Odds ratios were determined using multiple logistic regression. A p value of 0.05 was used to determine statistical significance. RESULTS: The overall rate of DAMA was low (0.37%). Black patients had the highest rate, and White patients had the lowest (0.72% and 0.28%, respectively, p < 0.001). When controlling for covariates, Black patients also had a higher odds ratio (OR) for DAMA (OR 1.96, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.29-2.97). Male patients had a higher unadjusted rate (0.47% vs. 0.26% in females, p < 0.001) and were at increased risk (OR 1.78, 95% CI 1.32-2.41). Patients between 30 and 65 years old had an increased risk (OR 1.48, 95% CI 1.10-2.0). Patients with government insurance or no insurance had higher rates than private insurance (0.57% and 0.56% vs. 0.23% respectively, p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Race, insurance status, age, and male sex were all associated with increase in DAMA. Risk stratifying patients can help to determine how to best employ mitigations strategies. Reducing DAMA may be the next area for improving reducing disparities in appendicitis care.