Unscheduled return visits with and without admission post emergency department discharge

J Emerg Med. 2012 Dec;43(6):1110-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2012.01.062. Epub 2012 Jun 5.


Background: Monitoring unscheduled return visits to the Emergency Department (ED) is useful to identify medical errors.

Objective: To investigate the differences between unscheduled return visit admissions (URVA) and unscheduled return visit no admissions (URVNA) after ED discharge.

Methods: From January 1, 2008 to March 31, 2008, URVA and URVNA patients who returned within 3 days after ED discharge were enrolled in the study. We compared the clinical characteristics, underlying diseases, ED crowding indicators, staff experience at the patient's first visit, and several other risk factors. We used multivariate logistic regression to evaluate differences between the two groups and to identify predictors of admission from unscheduled return visits.

Results: The unscheduled return visit rate was 3.1%. Of the 413 patients included, 147 patients (36%) were admitted, and had a mortality rate of 4.1%. The most common reason for the return visit was an illness-based factor (47.9%). Compared to URVNA patients, unscheduled return visit admissions had higher prevalence rates for old age, non-ambulatory status, high-grade triage, and underlying diseases (e.g., malignancy, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The independent predictors for URVA were: age≥65 years (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 2.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.4-3.5); high-grade triage (adjusted OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.3-3.2); and doctor-based factors (adjusted OR 3.5, 95% CI 2.0-6.1). More advanced staff experience (p=0.490) and ED crowding were not significant predictors (p=0.498 for whole-day number of patients, p=0.095 for whole-shift number of patients).

Conclusion: Old age, high-grade triage, and doctor-based factors were found to be significant predictors for URVA, whereas advanced staff experience and ED crowding were not.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disease Progression
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Patient Readmission*
  • Triage
  • Young Adult