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Needs of Frequent Users Not Served at Emergency Rooms

More interventions needed to preserve services for those in critical need

MONDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- The needs of frequent visitors to the emergency department are not being met by the current utilization of services and more needs to be done to ensure services are made available to those most in need, according to a study published in the May issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

Pat Milbrett, R.N., and Margo Halm, R.N., of United Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., conducted a study to determine common characteristics of 201 adults who made at least six visits to the emergency department from 2005 through 2006.

Pain was the most common presenting problem, and the typical profile of a frequent user was a 35-year-old, white, single, unemployed female who lived alone and had either private insurance or Medicaid and a primary care physician, the researchers found. However, when the data was analyzed using a Poisson regression it showed that the most frequent users were male, non-black, in less than full-time employment, and presenting with an upper respiratory infection.

"Other interventions such as deferring low-risk patients to next-day care, multidisciplinary care plans, pain contracts involving primary care physicians, or comprehensive case management programs are needed to fill care gaps and preserve emergency services for those with the most critical health care needs," the authors write.

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