Return visit characteristics among patients who leave without being seen from a pediatric ED

Eileen Murtagh Kurowski, Terri Byczkowski, Nathan Timm
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2012, 30 (7): 1019-24

OBJECTIVES: The primary aim of this study was to evaluate for differences in acuity level and rate of admission on return visit between patients who leave without being seen (LWBS) and those who are initially evaluated by a physician. Our secondary aim was as well as to identify predictors of which LWBS patients will return to the ED with high acuity or require admission.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study using an administrative database at an academic tertiary-care pediatric hospital in the United States from January 1, 2006, to December 31, 2008 was done.

RESULTS: There were 3525 patients who LWBS during the study period (1.2% of total ED visits). Of these, 87% were triaged as nonurgent, and 13% as urgent at their initial visit. Two hundred eighty-nine (8%) of LWBS patients returned to the ED within 48 hours. Compared with the population who returned to the ED after previous evaluation, patients who LWBS from their initial visit and returned had significantly lower odds of urgent acuity at time of return visit (odds ratio [OR], 0.22; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.15-0.32) and of being admitted (OR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.40-0.84). Urgent acuity at initial visit (OR, 2.86; 95% CI, 1.35-6.04) and number of ED visits in last 6 months (OR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.02-1.52) were significant predictors of admission at return visit among the LWBS population.

CONCLUSIONS: Generally, patients who LWBS from a pediatric ED were unlikely to return for ED care, and those who did were unlikely to either be triaged as urgent or require hospital admission. This study showed that urgent acuity during the initial visit and number of previous ED visits were significant predictors of admission on return. Identification of these predictors may allow a targeted intervention to ensure follow-up of patients who meet these criteria after they LWBS from the pediatric ED.

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