Process of care and activity in a clinically inclusive ambulatory emergency care unit: progressive effect over time on clinical outcomes and acute medical admissions

Future Healthc J. 2020 Oct;7(3):234-240. doi: 10.7861/fhj.2019-0062.


Clinically relevant outcomes for same-day emergency care provided by ambulatory emergency care units (AECs) are largely unknown. We report the activity and outcomes for a large UK adult AEC operating an ambulatory-care-by-default model without specific exclusion criteria. The AEC consultant triaged all acute medical referrals to either the AEC or the standard non-ambulatory 'take' pathway during AEC opening hours. The proportion of acute medical referrals seen in the AEC increased to 42% (mean 700 referrals seen per month) in the last 6 months of the study and numbers seen in the non-ambulatory pathway fell. The most common diagnoses were for chest pain, pneumonia, cellulitis, heart failure and urinary system disorders. Seventy-four point eight per cent of patients completed their care in a single visit. In the last calendar year, the conversion rate from AEC to inpatient admission was 12%, and the 30-day readmission rate was 6.9% and 18% for the AEC and non-ambulatory pathways, respectively. Across the whole study period, the 30-day mortality was 1.6% and 6.9% for the AEC and non-ambulatory pathway, respectively. This ambulatory approach is safe and effective.

Keywords: Ambulatory emergency care; medical emergencies; same-day emergency care; zero length of stay.