Unscheduled return visits by patients to the accident and emergency department

Arch Emerg Med. 1991 Sep;8(3):196-200. doi: 10.1136/emj.8.3.196.


To determine why patients reattend an A&E department we surveyed 235 patients who returned unscheduled in a one-month period. Sixty-two per cent returned because of persistent symptoms. Sixty-three per cent presented within a week of their initial visit. Only 32% had attempted to see their GP. Thirty-five per cent of all patients claimed that A&E staff had advised them to return if they had problems. Half of the patients did not require treatment and 61% were discharged home. Twenty-one patients had pathology that had been missed on their first visit. Better patient education may minimize misuse of the service allowing better care for those who need it.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires