Acute neurological problems: frequency, consultation patterns and the uses of a rapid access neurology clinic

J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2009 Dec;39(4):296-300. doi: 10.4997/JRCPE.2009.402.


In secondary care, some patients with acute neurological symptoms are never seen by a neurologist. Rapid access neurology clinics could provide patients with timely access to neurology services. We analysed a retrospective cohort of 12,024 consecutive patients attending the 'immediate care' area of the emergency department or the acute medical admissions unit of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. A total of 1,036 patients (9%) presented with a neurological complaint, of whom 680 (66%) did not have any contact with neurology services. The most common problems were epileptic seizure, cerebrovascular diseases and headache. Of the patients with epileptic seizure or headache who were not seen by a neurologist, about 40% might have benefited from neurological assessment. Following the introduction of a weekly rapid access neurology clinic, the most common problems seen were headache, symptoms that turned out to be medically unexplained and epileptic seizure.