Demographic and clinical characteristics among Turkish homeless patients presenting to the emergency department
Selman Yeniocak1, Asım Kalkan1, Ozgur Sogut1, Gökce Akgül Karadana2, Mehmet Toptas3
1University of Health Sciences, Haseki Training and Research Hospital, Department of Emergency Medicine, Istanbul, Turkey
2Koc University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Istanbul, Turkey
3University of Health Sciences, Haseki Training and Research Hospital, Department of Anesthesiology and Reanimation, Istanbul, Turkey
Keywords: Homelessness, Homeless patient, Emergency department visit, Demographics
Objective: Since the homeless are at greater risk of encountering health problems than the general population, the reasons for and incidence of their presentations to emergency departments also vary. The purpose of this study was to determine the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of Turkish homeless patients who brought to the emergency department by ambulance.
Materials and methods: The records of homeless adult patients brought to the ED by 112 emergency service ambulance teams over a 1-year period from January to December, 2014, were examined retrospectively.
Results: Thirty-six (21.56%) of the homeless patients enrolled in the study presented due to trauma, and 131 (78.44%) due to non-traumatic causes. One hundred thirty-seven (82.04%) of the total patient group were male. The mean age of the non-trauma patients was 47.3 ± 15.2 years (range, 18–81 years), and the mean age of the trauma patients was 36.9 ± 14.4 years (range, 18–63 years). The most common reason for presentation among patients presenting to the emergency department for non-trauma reasons was clouded consciousness (n = 39, 23.35%), followed by general impaired condition (n = 26, 15.57%), respiratory difficulty (n = 25 14.97%) and abdominal pain (n = 21, 12.57%). The most common reason for presentation among trauma cases was traffic accidents (n = 13, 7.78%), followed by sharp implement injury (n = 9, 5.39%). Four (2.4%) homeless patients died in the emergency department, three (%1.8) homeless patients discharged from the emergency department, and the remaining 160 (95.8%) were admitted to the hospital.
Conclusion: Homeless patients may present to the emergency department due to traumatic or non-traumatic causes. Admission levels are high among these patients, who may have many acute and chronic problems, and appropriate precautions must be taken in the management of these subjects in the emergency department.