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The impact of out-of-hospital models of care on paediatric emergency department presentations

Abstract

Objective To estimate the potential impact of enhanced primary care and new out-of-hospital models (OOHMs) on emergency department (ED) presentations by children and young people (CYP).

Design Observational study.

Patients & setting Data collected prospectively on 3020 CYP 0–17.9 years from 6 London EDs during 14 days by 25 supernumerary clinicians. CYP with transient acute illness, exacerbation of long-term condition (LTC), complex LTC/disability and injury/trauma were considered manageable within OOHM. OOHMs assessed included nurse-led services, multispecialty community provider (MCP), primary and acute care system (PACS) plus current and enhanced primary care.

Measures Diagnosis, severity; record of investigations, management and outcome that occurred; objective assessment of clinical need and potential alternative management options/destinations.

Results Of the patients 95.6% had diagnoses appropriate for OOHM. Most presentations required assessment by a clinician with skills in assessing illness (39.6%) or injuries (30.9%). One thousand two hundred and ninety-one (42.75%) required no investigations and 1007 (33.3%) were provided only with reassurance. Of the presentations 42.2% were judged to have been totally avoidable if the family had had better health education.

Of the patients 26.1% were judged appropriate for current primary care (community pharmacy or general practice) with 31.5% appropriate for the combination of enhanced general practice and community pharmacy. Proportions suitable for new models were 14.1% for the nurse-led acute illness team, MCP 25.7%, GP federation CYP service 44.6%, comprehensive walk-in centre for CYP 64.3% and 75.5% for a PACS.

Conclusions High proportions of ED presentations by CYP could potentially be managed in new OOHMs or by enhancement of existing primary care.

  • integrated care
  • health services research
  • epidemiology
  • health service

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