Hong Kong Journal of Emergency Medicine

Volume 11 Number 1, January 2004

Patients who self-discharge from the emergency department: a three-month telephone survey

YH Lim and V Anantharaman

Study objectives: To determine the main causes and outcomes of patients who self-discharged from the Emergency Department (ED). Methods: Records of all patients who self-discharged from the ED of a tertiary level hospital were traced and telephone interviews were conducted. The duration of the study was from 15 July 2002 to 14 October 2002. Results: There were 28,898 new attendances during the period of study and of these, 450 (1.6%) patients signed the self-discharge form. Of the 357 patients recruited into the study, the majority signed the self-discharge form because of refusal of admission to inpatient units (52.1%) or the ED observation ward (43.4%) for further treatment. One hundred and thirteen (31.7%) patients acknowledged that they were unwell during the interview and 85 (23.8%) patients sought some form of medical attention after leaving the ED. Conclusion: Most of the patients who self-discharged from the ED were for personal reasons and very few were due to financial reasons. (Hong Kong j.emerg.med. 2004;11:21-25)

Keywords : Emergency department, self discharge

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