Age-related variation in primary care type presentations to emergency departments Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • A significant amount of attention has been paid to the increase in emergency department (ED) presentations in Australia. Questions have arisen regarding whether all of those presenting to the ED are actually in need of true emergency services. Under-standing the characteristics of those patients who may be cared for in non-emergency settings is important for future health system strategies. The aim of this study was to identify age-related variation in primary care type emergency department (ED) presentations over time.A secondary analysis of data from the Victorian emergency minimum dataset (VEMD) between 2002-13 was conducted. The main outcomes were patterns of primary care type ED presentations for different ages groups over time, age-specific patterns of specific primary care type exclusion criteria and primary care type ED presentations by residents from aged care facilities.The proportion of triage category 4 or 5 ED presentations that met the criteria for a primary care type visit was greatest in the 0-4-year age group and tended to decrease as the age of the patient increased. Triage category 4 or 5 presentation by ambulance was uncommon in the younger age groups, surpassed 10% in the 50-54-year age group, and was >70% for those aged >90 years. The greater proportion of residential aged care facility patients who arrived by ambulance resulted in a much smaller proportion of primary care type visits.There are marked differences by age in the proportion of triage category 4 or 5 ED presentations that met the criteria for primary care type visits. These results indicate it was primarily younger patients who presented to the ED with non-urgent conditions. Most might be able to safely receive care in a primary care setting.

publication date

  • 2015