Non-urgent adult patients in the emergency department: Causes and patient characteristics
Hasan Idil, Turgay Yılmaz Kilic, İbrahim Toker, Kadriye Dura Turan, Murat Yesilaras
Department of Emergency Medicine, Tepecik Training and Research Hospital, Izmir, Turkey
Keywords: Emergency department; Overcrowding; Non-urgent; Family physicians
Objective: Non-urgent patients are one of the important causes of emergency department (ED) overcrowding. In this study, it is aimed to identify the characteristics of these patients and the reasons why they prefer the ED.
Method: This study was conducted during regular office hours. The characteristics of non-urgent patients, their complaints, the frequency of visits to family physicians (FPs), the frequency of using the Central Hospital Appointment System (CHAS) and reasons for preferring the ED were questioned by a questionnaire.
Results: This study was conducted on 624 patients. Among them, 326 (52.2%) were male. The mean age was 38.4 years (SD: 14.4). It was identified that 80.3% of the patients had no chronic disease and that 97.4% had health insurance. The most common complaints at presentation were musculoskeletal system pain (25.2%) and upper respiratory tract infections symptoms (19.7%). It was identified that 28.7% of the patients did not prefer to visit their FPs and that 48.6% did not use the CHAS. The reasons of preferring ED were as follows: rapid physical examination (36.4%), not being able to book an earlier appointment at alternative health facilities (30.9%), being close to the facility (12.8%) and being at the hospital for a different reason (12.3%). Among the patients, 20.2% did not express any particular reason.
Conclusions: Non-urgent patients who admitted to the ED are mostly middle-aged patients with no chronic disease. They usually visit the ED for preventable reasons. The use of alternative health facilities and CHAS should be encouraged.