Assessment of nationwide emergency systems in Thailand, a middle-income country setting with UHC

Int J Health Plann Manage. 2019 Apr;34(2):e1346-e1355. doi: 10.1002/hpm.2783. Epub 2019 Apr 4.


Background: Evidence has been limited regarding broader emergency systems assessment in low- and middle-income countries. The aim of the present study was to provide the empirical evidence of Thai emergency department (ED) workforce vis-à-vis workload on a national scale, the availability of services for selected high-priority health burdens, and the governance obstacles in addressing the workforce management.

Method: One hundred thirty public Thai EDs that provide 24-hour emergency medical care were identified across Thailand as meeting the inclusion criteria. The mailed questionnaires were administered to collect data related to the objectives of the research study.

Result: Responses were received from 91 of 130 (70%) hospitals. The median number of patients visiting hospital EDs was 51 221 per year with 32.8% considered nonurgent (ESI levels 4-5). University hospital EDs were staffed with a higher number of ER professionals than EDs of service-based secondary care and tertiary care hospitals under Ministry of Public Health (MOPH). Almost all hospitals expressed concerns about the deficiency of doctors and nurses especially emergency physician (EP) and emergency nurses. The percentage of hospitals reporting the availability of coronary artery catheterization (34%) and thrombolytic infusion for acute thrombotic stroke (24%) was limited. The governance obstacles to manage emergency systems were considered.

Conclusion: ED staffing seems to positively correlate with workloads except university hospitals, in our study, which may suggest the influence of teaching status on the allocation of the human resource. Among the governance obstacles in ED management, a better response to nonurgent patients requires flexibility for hospitals to set financial disincentives or mobilization and management of human resources.

Keywords: assessment; emergency department; middle-income country; national health coverage; systems.

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospital Bed Capacity / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data
  • Operating Rooms / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thailand
  • Universal Health Care*