Curbing Return Visits to Emergency Dept. Depends on Docs

Jacqueline Fellows, September 4, 2014

The main reason patients return to the emergency department is fear and uncertainty about their conditions. The remedy? Teaching future physicians how to talk to patients, says one medical educator.

This article first appeared in the October 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Better physician communication and more coordinated patient care in the emergency department could have an impact on hospital readmission rates, a new study suggests.

The results of a five-month study at two Philadelphia area hospitals was published this week in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. It offers insight into why patients return to the emergency department based on information learned directly from patients and gleaned from medical records.

ED use frequently focuses on the socioeconomic, demographic, and clinical data to determine who the frequent fliers are. While these studies are useful, little has been done to assess the patient's perspective, an important component in designing processes that improve care, cost, and satisfaction.

To find out why patients were returning to the ED, the authors interviewed 60 adults who were at least 18 years old and had returned to the ED within nine days of their initial discharge. The study was done over a period of five months, and excluded patients who were supposed to return to the ED for a wound check, or who left against medical advice.

Jacqueline Fellows

Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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