Study: Patients' Perceptions, Providers' Availability May Hinder Proper ED Utilization

Patients' perceptions of the urgency of their condition and the availability and capacity of alternative care providers may contribute to the high number of patients with minor problems visiting the emergency department, according to a study in Emergency Medical Journal.

For two months, researchers sent questionnaires to adults at a type 1 urban ED. They found more than two-thirds of the patients' conditions could have been managed in a non-ED setting. The most frequent reason for visiting the ED was "being advised to attend by someone else," according to the study. The person who suggested going to the ED was more likely to be a health professional than friends or family.

This finding is similar to the results from a CDC report that found roughly twenty percent of patients aged 18 to 64 who visited the emergency room in the past 12 months but were not admitted went to the ER on the advice of their health provider.

Another reason for ED visits was the belief that the ED was the only provider who could resolve the health problem.

The authors suggested that while there is an opportunity to treat patients with minor conditions outside the ED, patients' perceptions of their condition and access to other providers may be barriers.

More Articles on ED Utilization:

20% of ED Patients Not Admitted to Hospital Were Referred by Physician
Study: Early Hospice Enrollment May Prevent End-of-Life ED Visits

NJ Hospital Association: Care Coordination Can Reduce Unnecessary ED Visits

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