Emergency department nonurgent visits in Iran: prevalence and associated factors.
ABSTRACT Objectives: To estimate the number of emergency department (ED) visits due to nonurgent problems and to describe the characteristics of those patients, as well as their reasons for presenting to the ED. Study Design: Descriptive cross-sectional study. Methods: In this study, all adult (aged >15 years) patients presenting to the ED over a 2-week period were evaluated. Data regarding the age, sex, marital status, educational level, and insurance status of all patients were recorded. The time and date of the presentation were also noted. Those classified by the triage nurse as having nonurgent conditions were surveyed regarding their reasons for presenting to the ED. Results: Out of 1923 visits, 400 (20.8%) were classified as nonurgent. The prevalence of inappropriate ED visits was slightly greater in patients aged 15 to 49 years. Patients whose visits were paid for by health insurance accounted for the majority of inappropriate visits (82.75%). There were higher rates of inappropriate visits in the evening and night shifts compared with morning and afternoon shifts (17.39% vs 25.03%). The most common reason for presenting to the ED was "to obtain rapid treatment" (76.5%); only 10.75% presented because of a perceived urgent problem. Conclusions: The results of our study corroborate the previous findings that inappropriate use of the ED is common. The prevalence of presentation for nonurgent problems was substantive between 6 PM and 6 AM. Gender, marital status, education, insurance, and day of the week had no association with nonurgent presentation.