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Patient visits to the emergency department at a Norwegian university hospital: variations in patient gender and age, timing of visits, and patient acuity


Background The patient visits to Norwegian emergency departments (EDs) have increased significantly over the last few years. A national evaluation revealed a lack of systematic activity control, resource management and quality improvement. This paper describes some variables in patient visits to an urban Norwegian university hospital.

Methods The retrospective data were collected from a database (Akuttdatabasen) and included all patients admitted to the main ED at the St. Olav's University Hospital between 1 December 2010 and 1 December 2011.

Results ED visits have increased by 44% over the last decade and show considerable timely variations. Almost 50% of the patients are older than 65 years of age. The rate of patients triaged with the highest acuity level was 11%, but only 1.3% of the patients were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The total admission rate was 89%.

Conclusions The increase in ED visits to the St. Olav's Hospital in recent years follows the same trend as in other countries. The authors see a slightly higher percentage of high level acuity patients compared with international studies due the general practitioner's intended ‘gatekeeper’ function. The authors also found a high total admission rate and a low ICU admission rate compared with other countries. These differences cannot be explained solely by differences in the healthcare system in Norway. The cultural and traditional organisation of the Norwegian Health Care System needs to change and this creates an excellent opportunity to improve the competence by establishing emergency medicine as a specialty in Norway.

  • Patient admission
  • emergency department
  • population distribution
  • demographics

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