Primary care follow up of patients discharged from the emergency department: A retrospective study

Shlomo Vinker*, Eliezer Kitai, Yaacov Or, Sasson Nakar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: The visit to the emergency department (ED) constitutes a brief, yet an important point in the continuum of medical care. The aim of our study was to evaluate the continuity of care of adult ED visitors. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed all ED discharge summaries for over a month 's period. The ED chart, referral letter and the patient's primary care file were reviewed. Data collected included: age, gender, date and hour of ED visit, documentation of ED referral and ED discharge letter in the primary care file. Results: 359 visits were eligible for the study. 192 (53.5%) of the patients were women, average age 54.1 ± 18.7 years (mean ± SD). 214 (59.6%) of the visits were during working hours of primary care clinics ("working hours"), while the rest were "out of hours" visits. Only 196 (54.6%) of patients had a referral letter, usually from their family physician. A third (71/214) of "working hours" visits were self referrals, the rate rose to 63.5% (92/145) of "out of hours" visits (p < 0.0001). The ED discharge letter was found in 50% (179/359) of the primary care files. A follow-up visit was documented in only 31% (111/359). Neither follow up visit nor discharge letter were found in 43% of the files (153/359). Conclusions: We have found a high rate of ED self referrals throughout the day together with low documentation rates of ED visits in the primary care charts. Our findings point to a poor continuity of care of ED attendees.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalBMC Family Practice
StatePublished - 7 Aug 2004


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