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Unnecessary delays in accident and emergency departments: do medical and surgical senior house officers need to vet admissions?
  1. P M O'Connor,
  2. K E Dowey,
  3. P M Bell,
  4. S T Irwin,
  5. C H Dearden
  1. Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK.


    Work was carried out to determine whether patients requiring emergency medical or surgical admission to hospital via accident and emergency (A&E) departments benefit from initial assessment by the ward senior house officer (SHO) as well as the A&E SHO. Two comparable consultant-led A&E departments sharing the same catchment population and receiving similar numbers of new patients each year were studied. A panel of four consultants audited the A&E notes and in-patient records of consecutive emergency medical and surgical patients admitted to two hospitals over the same 6 month period. In one hospital patients were seen and admitted by the A&E SHO alone. In the other hospital patients were seen by the A&E SHO and the medical or surgical SHO from the admitting unit. Diagnostic errors, inappropriate admissions to hospital and admission of patients to inappropriate wards were used as outcome measures. There was no significant difference in the rates of diagnostic error or inappropriate admissions between those patients seen by an A&E SHO only, and those seen in A&E by the A&E and ward SHOs. Detaining emergency medical and surgical patients in the A&E department for further assessment by ward SHOs does not alter inappropriate admission rate or improve diagnostic accuracy.

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