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PLoS One. 2018 Dec 12;13(12):e0208914. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0208914. eCollection 2018.

Patients who leave Emergency Department without being seen or during treatment in the Lazio Region (Central Italy): Determinants and short term outcomes.

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Department of Epidemiology, Lazio Regional Health Service, Rome, Italy.
Unit of Clinical Epidemiology, CittĂ  della Salute e della Scienza di Torino University Hospital and CPO Piemonte, Torino, Italy.



Patients who leave Emergency Department before physician's visit (LWBS) or during treatment (LDT) represent a useful indicator of the emergency care's quality. The profile of patients LWBS was described: they are generally males, young, with lower urgency triage allocation and longer waiting time. They have a greater risk of ED re-admission compared to discharged patients, but effect on hospitalization and mortality are more controversial. The aims of this study are to identify determinants and adverse short term outcomes for LWBS and LDT patients.


This is a retrospective cohort study that include all ED visits of LWBS, LDT and discharged patients in 2015 in the Lazio region, Central Italy. Determinants of LWBS or LDT were selected from gender, age, citizenship, residence area, triage category, chronic comorbidities, number of uncompleted ED visit in the previous year, mode of arrival in ED, time-band, day of the week, waiting time and ED crowding, using a multi-level logistic regression. A multivariate logistic regression was used to test if LWBS or LDT have a greater risk of short term adverse outcome compared to discharged patients.


The cohort consists in 835,440 visits in ED, 86.8% subjects visited and discharged, 8.9% subjects are LWBS patients and 4.3% LDT. LWBS and LDT patients are mainly young, males, with a less severe triage, with long waiting times in ED. Moreover, ED crowding and leaving ED before physician's visit in the previous year are risk factors of self-discharging. LWBS and LDT patients have a higher risk of readmission (LWBS: OR = 4.63, 95%CI 4.5-4.7; OR = 2.89, 95%CI 2.8-2.9; LDT: OR = 3.12, 95%CI 3-3.2; OR = 2.25, 95%CI2.2-2.3 for readmissions within 2 and 7 days respectively) and hospitalization (LWBS: OR = 3.65, 95%CI 3.4-3.9; OR = 2.25, 95%CI 2.1-2.4; LDT: OR = 3.96, 95%CI 3.6-4.3; OR = 2.62, 95%CI 2.4-2.8 for hospitalization within 2 and 7 days respectively). Furthermore, we find a mortality excess of risk for LWBS patients compared to the reference group (OR = 2.56, 95%CI1.6-4.2; OR = 1.7, 95%CI 1.3-2.2 within 2 and 7 days respectively).


Determinants of LWBS confirmed what already known, but LDT patients should be further investigated. There could be adverse health effects for people with LWBS and LDT behaviour. This could be an issue that the Regional Health System should deal with.

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