Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Irregular discharge against medical advice from the accident and emergency department--a cause for concern.
  1. A G Pennycook,
  2. G McNaughton,
  3. F Hogg
  1. Department of Accident and Emergency Medicine, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow.


    An irregular discharge (ID) from the A&E department is an undesirable, but relatively common occurrence. A prospective study was undertaken to quantify the size of the problem and by arranging a subsequent review of the patient, to determine the clinical outcome. Over a 3-month period, 139 patients (0.73%) of attendances) took their own discharge against medical advice. A further 566 patients (3.03% of attendances) left prematurely prior to any medical assessment (DNW). Attenders irregularly discharged, often with serious untreated conditions. A high proportion were intoxicated with alcohol (65.5%). Attempted follow up proved difficult and incomplete. Patients with serious conditions appeared to return spontaneously for further care. Methods of minimizing the numbers of patients who take an ID or DNW are discussed. Taken together, the numbers of these attenders leaving prematurely, can be used as a valid performance indicator of the delivery of health care in the A/E department.

    Statistics from

    Request Permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.