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Preferences and perceptions of patients attending emergency departments with low acuity problems in Hong Kong

Graham, C .A., Kwok, W. A., Tsang, Y. L. and Rainer, Timothy 2007. Preferences and perceptions of patients attending emergency departments with low acuity problems in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Journal of Emergency Medicine 16 (3) , pp. 148-154. 10.1177/102490790901600304

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Objective: To explore why patients in Hong Kong seek medical advice from the emergency department (ED) and to identify the methods by which patients would prefer to be updated on the likely waiting time for medical consultation in the ED. Methods: The study recruited 249 semi-urgent and non-urgent patients in the ED of Prince of Wales Hospital from 26th September 2005 to 30th September 2005 inclusive. A convenience sample of subjects aged 15 years old in triage categories 4 or 5 were verbally consented and interviewed by research nurses using a standardized questionnaire. Results: From 1715 potential patients, 249 were recruited ad hoc (mean age 44 years [SD18]; 123 females). About 63% indicated that an acceptable ED waiting time was less than or equal to two hours, and 88% felt that having individual number cards and using a number allocation screen in the ED waiting area would be useful. Perceived reasons for attending the ED rather than other health care providers such as primary health care or the general outpatient clinic (GOPC) included: a desire for more detailed investigations (56%); a perception that more professional medical advice was given in the ED (35%); patients were under the continuing care of the hospital (19%); and patients were referred to the ED by other health care professionals (11%). Notably, 26% of participants had considered attending the GOPC prior to attending the ED. Patients educated to tertiary level expected a shorter waiting time than those educated to lesser degrees (p=0.026, Kruskal- Wallis test). Suggestions were made on how to provide a more pleasant ED environment for the wait for consultations, which included the provision of a television screen with sound in the waiting area (43%), more comfortable chairs (37%) and health care promotion programs (32%). Conclusion: Patients chose ED services because they believed they would receive more detailed investigations and more professional medical advice than available alternatives. Clear notification of the likely waiting times and enhancement of comfort before consultation are considered desirable by patients. Enhanced public education about the role of the ED and making alternatives to ED care more accessible may be useful in reducing inappropriate ED attendances in Hong Kong.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Publisher: Medcom Limited
ISSN: 1024-9079
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2019 12:19

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