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Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2013 May;104(4):316-24. doi: 10.1016/j.adengl.2013.03.003. Epub 2013 Apr 11.

Dermatologic emergencies: descriptive analysis of 861 patients in a tertiary care teaching hospital.

[Article in English, Spanish]

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Departamento de Dermatología, Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal, Madrid, Spain.



Most Spanish hospitals do not have an on-call dermatologist. The primary objective of our study was to determine the profile of patients visiting our hospital's emergency department for dermatologic conditions; our secondary objective was to analyze the case-resolving capacity of the on-call dermatologist.


Prospective study that included patients with dermatologic conditions treated in the emergency department of a hospital with an on-call dermatology resident during a 2-month period. We collected data on sex, age, diagnosis, days since onset, whether or not the emergency visit was justified, referral (self-referral or other), continued care, and the main reason for the visit. To analyze the case-resolving capacity of the on-call dermatologist we assessed the percentage of direct discharges, the diagnostic tests performed, and the percentage of revisits.


The on-call dermatologist attended 861 patients (14.4 patients per day), of whom 58% were women and 42% men. In total, 131 different diagnoses were made; the most common were infectious cellulitis, acute urticaria, and herpes zoster. Only half of the visits were justifiable as emergencies (95% of patients <30 years of age had conditions that did not justify emergency care, compared to 6% of patients >65 years, P<.005). The on-call dermatologist discharged 58% of the patients directly and the revisit rate was 1%. In 4 of 5 emergency visits no diagnostic tests were required.


The profile of patients seeking emergency dermatologic care is variable. Half of the emergency visits were not justified, and unjustified visits were especially common in younger patients. The case-resolving capacity of the on-call dermatologist was high.

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