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Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2017 May;142(10):e61-e73. doi: 10.1055/s-0043-100639. Epub 2017 Mar 29.

[Perception of the Emergency Department for Outpatient Care in a Rural Region in Saxony-Anhalt: A Qualitative Survey of Patients and General Practitioners].

[Article in German]


Background The increasing number of low-acuity visits to Emergency Departments (ED) is an important issue in Germany and contributes to ED crowding. A sustainable solution needs deeper knowledge of patients' underlying rationales. Methods To explore patients' motives we conducted 31 semi-structured face-to-face interviews with low-acuity ED patients in a rural region in Saxony-Anhalt. Subsequently we interviewed 12 General Practitioners (GP)s about their perspectives on patients visiting ED with low-acuity conditions and referring patients to ED. A qualitative content analysis approach was used for data analysis. Results All patients were connected to a GP. One third had visited ED because of 24/7 availability when consultation hours and working times overlapped. Another third had addressed EDs full range of laboratory and imaging technology with a subjective need for fast diagnosis. One group reported that they had been referred to the ED by their GP. The interviewed GPs classified patients' ED usage for time-constraints as impatience and growing demand, while they expressed greater understanding for patients striving to ED for anxiety reasons. Most GPs sometimes referred patients to ED for diagnostic reasons. Conclusion The findings demonstrate that ED usage with non-urgent conditions takes place for different reasons. Therefore, ED plays a pivotal role not only in emergency care, but also in ambulant care. The growing demand for ambulant care indicates a need for changed health care structures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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