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Cross‐sectional study of emergency department presentation triage categories at Goondiwindi Hospital and their effect on the treatment of acute emergencies

Saleh, Ashraf
The Australian journal of rural health 2017 v.25 no.4 pp. 235-240
cross-sectional studies, health services, hospitals, patients, physicians, rural health, t-test, Queensland
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to investigate the number and proportion of non‐acute presentations to a district hospital emergency department in Goondiwindi, a rural Queensland town, both in the treatment of emergency cases and potential barriers patients have in seeing a medical practitioner in the general practice setting. DESIGN: Occasions of service to Goondiwindi Hospital were collated from administrative records according to Australasian Triage Scale categories and analysed by Student's t‐test for monthly variations in triage category presentations. SETTING: Outpatient clinic (emergency department of a public district hospital). PARTICIPANTS: All patients presenting to Goondiwindi Hospital Emergency Department from 1 January 2013 to 30 June 2013. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Proportion of high and low triage category presentations in Goondiwindi Hospital during the study period. RESULTS: Triage category 4 and 5 presentations comprised 35.9% (mean = 225 per month) and 44.4% (mean = 278 per month), respectively, of all occasions of service at the Goondiwindi Hospital Emergency Department during this 6 month period. Life‐threatening presentations (Triage Category 1 and 2) comprised <5% of all occasions of service at Goondiwindi Hospital. There were statistically insignificant differences between total occasions of service by month of presentation. CONCLUSIONS: Although patients of all acuities presented to Goondiwindi Hospital, low‐acuity presentations were more common than reported at larger hospitals. Frequent interruptions impairing attention to more urgent tasks were noted at Goondiwindi Hospital, causing delayed treatment of sick patients. Educating the local community in the appropriate use of public health services would help direct more attention to the most ill seeking medical care at rural emergency departments such as Goondiwindi Hospital.