Beware the patient with a headache in the accident and emergency department

Arch Emerg Med. 1989 Mar;6(1):7-12. doi: 10.1136/emj.6.1.7.


We have reviewed the 130 patients presenting to an accident and emergency (A & E) department with a headache, followed up for 2 years. These are infrequent attenders but we have found that there is a high incidence of serious neurological pathology (16%) in this group of patients. We suggest that patients presenting to the A & E department with headache should be thoroughly examined and investigated and in the absence of a definite benign diagnosis should at least be admitted for a period of observation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Headache / diagnosis*
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / complications*
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies