ED treatment of migraine patients has changed

Published:August 20, 2018DOI:


      Study objectives

      Numerous studies have shown benefits of nonnarcotic treatments for emergency department (ED) migraine patients. Our goal was to determine if ED treatment of migraine patients and the rate of return within 72 h have changed.


      Design: Multi-hospital retrospective cohort. Population: Consecutive ED patients from 1-1-1999 to 9-31-2014. Protocol: For determining treatments, we examined charts at the beginning (1999–2000) and end (2014) of the time period. We combined similar medications into the following groups: parenteral narcotics, oral narcotics, antihistamines and dopamine receptor antagonists prochlorperazine/metoclopramide (DRA). We calculated the percent of migraine patients given each treatment in each time period. We identified those who returned to the same ED within 72 h, and calculated the difference in annual return rates between 1999–2000 and 2014.


      Of the 2,824,710 total visits, 8046 (0.28%) were for migraine. We reviewed 290 charts (147 in 1999–2000 and 143 in 2014) to determine migraine treatments. The use of IV fluids, DRA, ketorolac and dexamethasone increased from 1999–2000 to 2014, whereas narcotic use and discharge prescriptions for narcotics decreased. Of the 8046 migraine patients, 624 (8%) returned within 72 h. The return rate decreased from 1999–2000 to 2014 from 12% to 4% (difference = 8%, 95% CI 5%–11%).


      For ED migraine patients, the use of IV fluids, DRA, ketorolac and dexamethasone increased whereas the use of narcotics and discharge prescriptions for narcotics decreased. The return rates for migraines decreased. We speculate that the increased use of non-narcotic medications contributed to this decrease.


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