In Focus

Management of the hospitalized ulcerative colitis patient: A primer for the initial approach to care for the practicing gastroenterologist


 

Day 5 and beyond – Discharge planning

Patients who have responded to the initial intravenous steroid course by hospital day 5 should have successfully transitioned to oral steroids with plans to start an appropriate steroid-sparing therapy shortly after discharge. Treatment planning should commence prior to discharge and should be communicated with the outpatient GI team to ensure a smooth transition to the ambulatory care setting, primarily to begin insurance authorizations as soon as possible. If the patient has had a meaningful response to infliximab rescue therapy (improvement by more than 50% in bowel frequency, amount of blood, abdominal pain), discharge planning needs to prioritize obtaining authorization for the second dose within 2 weeks of the initial infusion. These patients are high risk for readmission, and close outpatient follow-up by the ambulatory GI care team is necessary to help direct the tapering of steroids and monitor response to treatment.

Figure 2. Management guide for hospital admission days 3 and 5

If the patient has not responded to intravenous steroid therapy, infliximab, or cyclosporine by day 5-7, then surgery should be strongly considered. Delaying surgery may worsen outcomes as patients become more malnourished, anemic, and continue to receive intravenous steroids. Additional preoperative optimization may be required depending on the patient’s course up to this point (Table 2).

Summary

The cornerstones of inpatient UC management center on a thorough initial evaluation including imaging and endoscopy as appropriate, establishment of baseline parameters, and daily assessment of response to therapy through a combination of patient-reported outcomes and biomarkers of inflammation. With this strategy in mind, practitioners and care teams can manage these complex patients using a consistent strategy focusing on multidisciplinary, evidence-based care.

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Dr. Chiplunker is an advanced inflammatory bowel disease fellow; Dr. Ha is associate professor of medicine at the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles.

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