What do patients really want from a trip to the ED?


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Reframing acute care encounters to focus on addressing specific patient needs and not just identifying a diagnosis, may lead to more effective transitions home and improved patient outcomes, conclude the authors of a new study. 

The research, published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine investigated what patients specifically want addressed when seeking a diagnosis at an emergency department (ED). 

Researchers conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with 30 participants recently discharged from the ED of a large urban academic teaching hospital to explore their expectations of their visit and postdischarge experiences.

Many participants reported wanting a diagnosis as a primary reason for seeking emergency care, as they believed it would deliver an explanation and treatment for their symptoms, as well as assistance with planning for the future. Among other findings, participants who previously received diagnoses for ongoing conditions often wanted reassurance that nothing new was wrong or that their symptoms were not worrisome complications. Many said they wanted clearer communication about why they did not receive a diagnosis. 

The authors said that while diagnosis may not be a feasible outcome of every acute care visit, the needs associated with seeking one should be addressed, as those may be achievable.