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Cutaneous conditions leading to dermatology consultations in the emergency department.

INTRODUCTION: We established the most common cutaneous diseases that received dermatology consultation in the adult emergency department (ED) and identified differentiating clinical characteristics of dermatoses that required hospital admission.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review of 204 patients presenting to the ED who received dermatology consultations at Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center, an urban tertiary care teaching hospital.

RESULTS: Of all patients, 18% were admitted to an inpatient unit primarily for their cutaneous disease, whereas 82% were not. Of nonadmitted patients, the most commonly diagnosed conditions were eczematous dermatitis not otherwise specified (8.9%), scabies (7.2%), contact dermatitis (6.6%), cutaneous drug eruption (6.0%), psoriasis vulgaris (4.2%), and basal cell carcinoma (3.6%). Of patients admitted for their dermatoses, the most highly prevalent conditions were erythema multiforme major/Stevens-Johnson syndrome (22%), pemphigus vulgaris (14%), and severe cutaneous drug eruption (11%). When compared with those of nonadmitted patients, admitted skin conditions were more likely to be generalized (92% vs 72%; P = 0.0104), acute in onset (<1 month duration) (81% vs 51%; P = 0.0005), painful (41% vs 15%; P = 0.0009), blistering (41% vs 7.8%; P < 0.0001), and ulcerated or eroded (46% vs 7.8%; P < 0.0001). They were more likely to involve the mucosa (54% vs 7.2%; P < 0.0001) and less likely to be pruritic (35% vs 58%; P = 0.0169).

CONCLUSION: We have described a cohort of patients receiving dermatologic consultation in the ED of a large urban teaching hospital. These data identify high-risk features of more severe skin disease and may be used to refine curricula in both emergency and nonemergency cutaneous disorders for emergency physicians.

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