Identifying and quantifying general practice‐type emergency department presentations

Not all patients arriving at emergency departments (EDs) have emergency conditions. But just how serious is this problem?

New ACEMS research now shows that a high number of presentations to public EDs in Australia could potentially have been addressed through primary care facilities such as general practitioners without providing ED care.

The research was just published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine Australasia by researchers from QUT and Princess Alexandra Hospital, led by Kalpani Ishara Duwalage (ACEMS at QUT).

One of the major developments of this study is that the research team identified the weaknesses in the most frequently used method of identifying GP-type presentations proposed by the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine. The researchers developed a modified method to overcome those drawbacks. They then used their modified method to identify GP-type presentations more accurately. Not only that, they also compared and quantified the clinical, socio‐demographic, and time‐varying characteristics between general practice-type (GP‐type) and non‐GP‐type presentations in EDs.

Key findings

  • Between 7% and 33% of presentations to the four public EDs in South‐East Queensland, identified using the modified ACEM method, were potentially avoidable and could possibly have been managed by general practitioners.
  • The majority (55–72%) of GP‐type presentations are children (0–14 years) and young adults (15–34 years) and they are more likely to present to EDs outside general practitioner hours.
  • The number of GP‐type presentations is greater on Sundays (20%) compared to other days of the week, and holiday days compared to non‐holiday days, especially Boxing Day and New Year Day (greater by 50–80%).