Discharge against medical advice from the emergency department in a university hospital

Link to article at PubMed

BMC Emerg Med. 2021 Mar 16;21(1):31. doi: 10.1186/s12873-021-00422-6.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Patients discharged against medical advice (DAMA) act as a high-risk population for the Emergency Department (ED), regardless of their presentations, and can pose a serious burden for the hospital. This study examines the prevalence, demographic and clinical characteristics, reasons, and clinical outcomes of a small sample of DAMA patients in a teaching university hospital, including readmission, morbidity, and mortality.

METHODS: A prospective, descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted in the ED of King Hamad University Hospital (KHUH) with 98,992 patient visits during a 1-year period from June 2018 to June 2019. Consenting DAMA patients were asked to complete a data collection form.

RESULTS: Patients (n = 413) had a mean age of 44.1 years with a female majority (57.1%). The majority were categorized as triage level-3 (87.7%). The main reasons for DAMA included refusal of the procedure/operation (23.2%), long ED waiting time (22.2%), subjective improvement with treatment (17.7%), and children at home (14.8%), whereas the least selected reason was dissatisfaction with medical care (1.2%). Follow-up of DAMA patients revealed that 86 cases (20.8%) were readmitted to the ED within 72 h of which 41 (47.7%) cases were morbidity and 2 (2.3%) were mortality. Marital status was a predictor of DAMA patients who revisit the ED within 72 h.

CONCLUSION: The results act as a pilot study to examine a small sample of DAMA patients' characteristics, diagnosis, and ED revisits. Hospitals should investigate further the DAMA population on a larger scale, reasons for refusing procedures, and utilize this knowledge to improve the healthcare process.

PMID:33726692 | DOI:10.1186/s12873-021-00422-6

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