An exploration of the reasons why people attend but do not wait to be seen in emergency departments
Alison Williams Emergency department practitioner, Emergency Care Centre, Maidstone Hospital, Kent, England
Aim The aim of the study was to explore the reasons why people do not always wait to receive treatment after registering in emergency departments (EDs).
Method Patients who attended the ED at a general hospital in the south of England and left without being seen (LWBS) were recorded between 1 June and 31 August 2016 and 597 patient records were analysed. Six patients participated in semi-structured interviews. Data were manually coded.
Findings The most common presenting complaint for people who LWBS was limb problems, however some had potentially more serious conditions such as chest pain. The six interviewees accessed the ED because of a perceived urgent need, and reasons for leaving before being seen included long waiting time, other commitments, non-availability of specialty services, perceiving their problem as less urgent, resolution of condition and discomfort in the waiting area.
Conclusion People who LWBS may not have trivial health problems, which is a risk for them and hospital trusts. Although many of the people who LWBS did so because of the lengthy waiting time, there may be other factors involved some of which could be prevented.
Williams A (2018) An exploration of the reasons why people attend but do not wait to be seen in emergency departments. Emergency Nurse. doi: 10.7748/en.2018.e1811
This article has been subject to external double-blind review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software
Conflict of interest
Published online: 26 June 2018
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