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After more than 30 years of publications in the emergency medicine literature on frequent ED use, what have we learnt? We know that patients are coming to our EDs because we offer a good service, and because they are unable to find the service they need when they need it. We know that those who tend to come more frequently have more chronic medical problems than less frequent users; that they have mental health, substance abuse and social issues that contribute to their illnesses and prevent them from them from getting care in the ‘usual way’. We know that their frequent visits are not because they enjoy the companionship of an overflowing waiting room, or find us ‘a more convenient’ and enjoyable experience than an appointment in a doctor’s office. We know they come because they need to, when they need to.
So why publish yet another study of frequent use. For one thing, the report by Greenfield et al on frequent use of EDs in the UK1 is the largest data set to be produced on this issue in the UK, although there have been a number of similar studies from other countries. More importantly, the fact that it draws similar conclusions to large studies in many other countries is important; regardless of …
Handling editor Simon Carley
Contributors EJW conceived of and drafted the editorial. She is solely responsible for its content.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.