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N Z Med J. 2001 Apr 13;114(1129):160-1.

Frequent attenders at Christchurch Hospital's emergency department.

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  • 1Invercargill Hospital.



To describe the characteristics of adult frequent attenders presenting to a major urban emergency department during a twelve month period.


A retrospective study was performed of all frequent attenders (presenting ten of more times during twelve months) to the Emergency Department (ED) at Christchurch Hospital.


The proportion of visits to the ED by frequent attenders increased from 1.38% to 2.08% of all visits between 1996 to 2000. A computer search identified 86 frequent attenders between 1 November 1998 and 31 October 1999: 1,395 visits were made by these patients. The median age was 35 years, both sexes were equally represented and most frequent attenders were single. The most common presenting problem was medical (40%) or psychological (36%), and (86%) had secondary problems related to each attendance.


This study's findings are generally consistent with those from two previous descriptions of frequent attenders. Evidence from overseas trials suggests that case management may provide the best outcomes for these patients, but further research is needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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