Injury type and emergency department management of orthopaedic patients influences follow-up rates

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2014 Oct 1;96(19):1650-8. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.M.01481.


Background: Orthopaedic clinic follow-up is required to ensure optimal management and outcome for many patients who present to the emergency department (ED) with an orthopaedic injury. While several studies have shown that demographic variables influence patient follow-up after discharge from the ED, the objective of this study was to examine orthopaedic-related and other factors associated with the failure to return for orthopaedic outpatient management, so-called "no-show," after an ED visit.

Methods: A chart review was conducted at a large academic public hospital. Four hundred and sixty-four consecutive adult patients who received an orthopaedic consult in the ED with subsequent referral to the orthopaedic clinic from January through June, 2011, were included. With use of chi-square and Mann-Whitney univariate tests, data regarding injury type and management were analyzed for association with no-show. Variables with p < 0.25 were included in a multivariate stepwise forward logistic regression analysis.

Results: The overall no-show rate was 26.1%. Logistic regression modeling revealed significant differences in no-show rates based on cause of injury (odds ratio [OR] 7.51; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.27 to 25.1), with assault victims having the highest no-show rate. Anatomic region of injury significantly influenced no-show rates (OR 6.61; 95% CI, 1.45 to 30.5), with patients with a spine or back complaint having the highest no-show rate. Follow-up rates were influenced by the orthopaedic resident provider consulted (OR 10.8; 95% CI, 4.11 to 31.1), and this was not related to level of training (p = 0.25). The type of bracing applied influenced the no-show rate (OR 2.46; 95% CI, 1.58 to 3.96), and the easier it was to remove the brace (splint), the worse the follow-up (p = 0.0001). Several demographic variables were also predictive of clinic nonattendance, including morbid obesity (OR 15.0; 95% CI, 4.83 to 51.6) and current tobacco use (OR 5.56; 95% CI, 2.19 to 15.4).

Conclusions: This study supports previous evidence of high no-show rates with scheduled orthopaedic follow-up among patients treated in the ED. The data highlight distinct orthopaedic-related factors associated with nonattendance. These findings are useful in identifying patients at high risk for no-show to scheduled orthopaedic follow-up appointments and may influence disposition and management decisions for these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aftercare* / statistics & numerical data
  • Aftercare* / trends
  • Bone Diseases / complications
  • Bone Diseases / therapy*
  • Bone and Bones / injuries*
  • Demography
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Humans
  • Lost to Follow-Up*
  • Orthopedics
  • Regression Analysis