Patient and care characteristics of self-referrals treated by the general practitioner cooperative at emergency-care-access-points in the Netherlands
SourceBMC Family Practice, 18, (2017), article 62
Article / Letter to editor
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BMC Family Practice
SubjectRadboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
BACKGROUND: In the Netherlands, out-of-hours primary care is provided in general practitioner-cooperatives (GPCs). These are increasingly located on site and in collaboration with emergency departments of hospitals (ED). At such sites, also called emergency-care-access-points (ECAP), the GPC is generally responsible for the triage and treatment of self-referrals who used to attend the ED. To evaluate the effects and safety of this novel organisation, we studied the characteristics and the quality of care given by GPCs to self-referrals at ECAPs. METHODS: Retrospective analysis (August 2011-January 2012) of 783 records of self-referred patients at three Dutch GPCs in an ECAP. This was supplemented with a retrospective analysis of patient records during a follow-up period of three-months to asses safety. RESULTS: Patient-characteristics: 59% was male, 46% aged between 16-45 years and 59% trauma-related. Most cases (95%) were triaged low-urgent. None received the highest urgency-category. Quality: The triage outcome was correct in 79%, underestimated in 12% and overestimated in 9%. After GP consultation 20% were referred to the ED, mostly for radio-diagnostics. Of the referrals to secondary care, 98% were according to common medical practice. Thirty percent had a follow-up contact, mostly with their own general practitioner, seldom with the ED. Complications, all non-severe, were registered in 3.2%; 0.4% were possibly preventable. CONCLUSIONS: Self-referred patients at an ECAP are mostly trauma related, low-urgent and male patients. The majority could be treated by the GPC without subsequent referral to the ED. Care given at the GPC is reasonably efficient and safe. Triage and treatment of self-referrals by the GPC at ECAPs might offer opportunities for other countries facing problems with inappropriate emergency department visits.
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