The relevance of continuity of care: a solution for the chaos in the emergency services


Stein, AT; Harzheim, E; Costa, M; Busnello, E; Rodrigues, LC; (2002) The relevance of continuity of care: a solution for the chaos in the emergency services. Family practice, 19 (2). pp. 207-10. ISSN 0263-2136 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/fampra/19.2.207

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: In Brazil, there continues to be an excessive use of emergency services by patients with elective medical problems. Those patients who report having a primary care physician are less likely to utilize the emergency department for non-urgent consultations. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to compare patients who have a primary care physician with those who do not in relation to severity of their chief complaint at presentation in the emergency department. METHODS: The study was carried out as a cross-sectional interview-based survey at the Conceição Hospital Emergency Service in Porto Alegre (Brazil). The sample was 553 patients selected through a systematic random sampling, and the response rate was 88%. The data entry and analysis were performed using the software Epi-info, EGRET and SPSS. The analysis included simple statistics to determine the prevalence of the conditions being investigated and the effect of independent variables (regular doctor) in relation to the dependent variable (severity of disease) through logistic regression. RESULTS: The chief complaints were divided up as follows: 15% emergency cases, 46% urgent cases and 39% elective. The chief complaint was defined as urgent or emergency if it exhibited a significantly statistical association with the following independent variables, after being analysed by a logistic regression model: patients who reported having a primary care physician [odds ratio (OR) = 2.98, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.84-4.80] and patients who usually go to the emergency room by car (OR = 2.67, 95% CI = 1.75-4.05). CONCLUSION: One strategy to reduce the number of non-urgent consultations at emergency rooms is to establish a close out-patient relationship between patients and physician. There is a need to optimize the health care of patients who have non-urgent problems but still seek the emergency department through strategies at the primary health care level-especially when continuous care is available-and where a comprehensive approach with an emphasis on prevention would stimulate better quality of care at a lower cost.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Brazil, Comparative Study, *Continuity of Patient Care, Cross-Sectional Studies, Emergency Service, Hospital/*utilization, Female, Health Services Research, Human, Interviews, Logistic Models, Male, Primary Health Care/*utilization, Brazil, Comparative Study, Continuity of Patient Care, Cross-Sectional Studies, Emergency Service, Hospital, utilization, Female, Health Services Research, Human, Interviews, Logistic Models, Male, Primary Health Care, utilization
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Research Centre: Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)
PubMed ID: 11906990
Web of Science ID: 174992900017
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/15563

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