Incidence, characteristics and outcomes of patients that return to Emergency Departments. An integrative review

Published:January 06, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.auec.2018.12.003

      Abstract

      Background

      Unplanned return visits account for up to 5% of Emergency Department presentations in Australia and have been associated with adverse events and increased costs. A large number of studies examine the incidence, characteristics and outcomes of unplanned return visits but few studies examine the reasons for return from a patient perspective. The objective of this integrative review was to determine the incidence, characteristics, outcomes and reasons for unplanned return visits to Emergency Departments.

      Method

      An integrative literature review design was employed to conduct a structured search of the literature using the databases CINAHL, MEDLINE, PubMed, ProQuest and EMBASE (inception to June 2018). Results were screened using predefined criteria and final studies collated and appraised using a quality assessment tool.

      Results

      Fifty-two primary research articles were included in the review. The timeframe used to capture unplanned return visits varied and the incidence ranged between 0.07% and 33%. The majority of patients who return unplanned to the Emergency Department are subsequently discharged (51% and 90%) without an adverse event.

      Conclusion

      There is no consensus on the timeframe employed to classify unplanned return visits to the Emergency Department and the commonly used 72 h lacks evidence. Routine statewide data linkage to capture return visits to other facilities is needed to ensure accurate data about this vulnerable patient group. Further research that focuses on patient and clinician perspectives is required to facilitate the development of local strategies to reduce the incidence of avoidable unplanned return visits.

      Keywords

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