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Unscheduled return visits (URV) in adults to the emergency department (ED): a rapid evidence assessment policy review
  1. Chetan R Trivedy1,2,
  2. Matthew W Cooke1,2
  1. 1Division of Health Sciences, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, UK
  2. 2Emergency Department, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, West Midlands, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chetan R Trivedy, Division of Health Sciences, Warwick Medical School, Gibett Hill, Coventry, West Midlands, CV4 7AL, UK; c.trivedy{at}


Unscheduled return visits (URV) to the emergency department (ED) may be an important quality indicator of performance of individual clinicians as well as organisations and systems responsible for the delivery of emergency care. The aim of this study was to perform a rapid evidence assessment policy-based literature review of studies that have looked at URVs presenting to the ED. A rapid evidence assessment using SCOPUS and PUBMED was used to identify articles looking at unplanned returns to EDs in adults; those relating to specific complaints or frequent attenders were not included. After exclusions, we identified 26 articles. We found a reported URV rate of between 0.4% and 43.9% with wide variation in the time period defined for a URV, which ranged from 24 h to undefined. Thematic analysis identified four broad subtypes of URVs: related to patient factors, to the illness, to the system or organisation and to the clinician. This review informed the development of national clinical quality indicators for England. URV rates may serve as an important indicator of quality performance within the ED. However, review of the literature shows major inconsistencies in the way URVs are defined and measured. Furthermore, the review has highlighted that there are potentially at least four subcategories of URVs (patient related, illness related, system related and clinician related). Further work is in progress to develop standardised definitions and methodologies that will allow comparable research and allow URVs to be used reliably as a quality indicator for the ED.

  • Emergency Care Systems, Emergency Departments
  • Emergency Department Management
  • Research, Methods
  • Quality Assurance

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