Objectives To survey the attendance of patients presenting with a head injury (HI) at a UK emergency department (ED), identifying numbers, types of service and referral routes; to survey subsequent service use and to highlight the challenges in service planning and identifying which patients may potentially benefit from follow-up/rehabilitation input.
Design A retrospective population-based case series study using multiple prospective and retrospective data sources.
Methods Adults from the National Health Service (NHS) Cambridgeshire catchment area attending an ED over a 6-month period with a HI were identified from detailed ED reports, and any service use within the hospital after injury was tracked using a number of data sources.
Results 1036 patients presented on 1081 occasions with a HI during the 6 months. Of the 1081 HIs, 979 (91%) were mild (Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score 13–15), 70 (6%) were moderate (GCS score 9–12), and 32 (3%) were severe (GCS score <9). A number of types of referral routes and systems were identified and analysed: 873 (81%) patients were discharged directly from ED, with four offered HI-specific follow-up. Of 208 admissions, 27 (2%) were to neurosurgical care, and 35 (3%) patients were offered HI-specific follow-up, 24 of these being in a specialist neurotrauma clinic. Follow-up started between 1 and 18 months after injury. At 24 months after injury, follow-up for 10 of these was still ongoing.
Conclusions These study findings highlight the difficulties in identifying patients who would benefit from follow-up, in particular after mild HI. Our study findings will form the basis of a long-term follow-up study.
- emergency care systems, emergency departments
- Trauma, head
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