Next-day care for emergency department users with nonacute conditions. A randomized, controlled trial

Donna L Washington, Carl D Stevens, Paul G Shekelle, Philip L Henneman, Robert H Brook
Annals of Internal Medicine 2002 November 5, 137 (9): 707-14

BACKGROUND: Because of overcrowding and cost-control efforts, emergency departments are under pressure to refer patients with nonacute conditions to other settings. However, no validated systematic methods exist for safely performing such referrals.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects on health status and access to care of systematically referring patients with nonacute conditions to next-day primary care.

DESIGN: Randomized, controlled trial.

SETTING: An emergency department in a public hospital.

PATIENTS: 156 adults who used the emergency department on weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and met criteria for deferred care. The criteria applied to three symptom complexes that account for 33% of U.S. emergency department visits by adults.

INTERVENTION: Next-day care at the study site's primary care center or usual same-day care.

MEASUREMENTS: Self-reported health status and use of health services during 1-week follow-up.

RESULTS: Patients assigned to next-day care did not demonstrate clinically important disadvantages in health status or physician visits compared with usual care patients. In each group, more than 95% of patients were evaluated at least once by a physician, 4% sought health services after their initial evaluation, and no patients were hospitalized or died. At follow-up, both groups reported improved health status and fewer days in bed or with disability, although the deferred care group reported less improvement on all three measures. The 95% CIs were sufficiently narrow to exclude a clinically significant difference in self-reported health status. However, the possibility of 1 additional day in bed or with disability in the deferred care group could not be excluded.

CONCLUSIONS: Clinically detailed standardized screening criteria can safely identify patients at public hospital emergency departments for referral to next-day care. However, larger studies are needed to assess the possibility of adverse effects.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Trending Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"