[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Within the emergency department (ED) patient population there is a subset of patients who make frequent visits. This chart review sought to characterize this population and identify strategies to reduce frequent ED visits.
Frequent use at an urban tertiary care centre was defined as 15 or more visits over 1 year. The details of each visit-demographics, entrance complaint, discharge diagnosis, arrival method, Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) score, and length of stay-were analyzed and compared to data from the entire ED population for the same period.
Ninety-two patients generated 2,390 ED visits (of 25,523 patients and 44,204 visits). This population was predominantly male (66%) and middle-aged (median 42 years), with no fixed address (27.2%). Patients arrived by ambulance in 59.3% of visits with less acute CTAS scores than the general population. Substance use accounted for 26.9% of entrance complaints. Increased lengths of stay were associated with female gender and abnormal vital signs, whereas shorter stays were associated with no fixed address and substance use (. < 0.05). Admissions were lower than the general population, and women were twice as likely as men to be admitted (. < 0.05). Patients left without being seen in 15.8% of visits.
High-frequency ED users are more likely to be male, younger, and marginally housed and to present secondary to substance use. Although admissions among this population are low, the costs associated with these presentations are high. Interventions designed to decrease visits and improve the health of this population appear warranted.
Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine 09/2012; 14(5):306-13. DOI:10.2310/8000.2012.120670 · 1.16 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We identify factors that define frequent and highly frequent emergency department (ED) users.
Administrative health care records were used to define less frequent (1 to 6 visits), frequent (7 to 17 visits), and highly frequent (≥18 visits) ED users. Analyses were conducted to determine the most unique demographic, disease, and health care use features of these groups.
Frequent users composed 9.9% of all ED visits, whereas highly frequent users composed 3.6% of visits. Compared with less frequent users, frequent users were defined most strongly by their substance abuse challenges and by their many visits to primary care and specialist physicians. Substance abuse also distinguished highly frequent from frequent ED users strongly; 67.3% versus 35.9% of these patient groups were substance abusers, respectively. Also, 70% of highly frequent versus only 17.8% of frequent users had a long history of frequent ED use. Last, highly frequent users did not use other health care services proportionally more than their frequent user counterparts, suggesting that these former patients use EDs as a main source of care.
This research develops objective thresholds of frequent and highly frequent ED use. Although substance abuse is prominent in both groups, only highly frequent users seem to visit EDs in place of other health care services. Future analyses can investigate these patterns of health care use more closely, including how timely access to primary care affects ED use. Cluster analysis also has value for defining frequent user subgroups who may benefit from different yet equally effective treatment options.
Annals of emergency medicine 02/2012; 60(1):24-32. DOI:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2011.11.036 · 4.68 Impact Factor