Can I Send This Syncope Patient Home From the Emergency Department?

Lloyd Tannenbaum, Samuel M. Keim, Michael D. April, Brit Long, Alex Koyfman, Amal Mattu

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Background: Syncope is a common presentation to the emergency department (ED). A significant minority of these patients have potentially life-threatening pathology. Reliably identifying that patients require hospital admission for further workup and intervention is imperative. Clinical Question: In patients who present with syncope, is there a reliable decision tool that clinicians can use to predict the risk of adverse outcome and determine who may be appropriate for discharge? Evidence Review: Four articles were reviewed. The first retrospective study found no difference in mortality or adverse events in patients admitted for further evaluation rather than discharged home with primary care follow-up. The next two articles examined the derivation and validation of the Canadian Syncope Risk Score (CSRS). After validation with an admission threshold score of –1, the sensitivity and specificity of the CSRS was 97.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] 93.8–99.6%) and 44.3% (95% CI 42.7–45.9%), respectively. The last article looked at the derivation of the FAINT score, a recently developed score to risk stratify syncope patients. A FAINT score of ≥ 1 (any score 1 or higher should be admitted) had a sensitivity of 96.7% (95% CI 92.9–98.8%) and specificity 22.2% (95% CI 20.7–23.8%). Conclusions: Syncope remains a difficult chief symptom to disposition from the ED. The CSRS is modestly effective at establishing a low probability of actionable disease or need for intervention. However, CSRS might not reduce unnecessary hospitalizations. The FAINT score has yet to undergo validation; however, the initial derivation study offers less diagnostic accuracy compared with the CSRS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-809
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Syncope
  • disposition
  • risk
  • score

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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