A rural emergency department

L. Frey, J. Schmidt, D. J. Derksen, B. Skipper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The appropriate use of emergency departments is of growing concern. By knowing which patients are more likely to make inappropriate visits to these departments, efforts can be directed to encourage more suitable care. Our study was done in a rural county hospital in eastern New Mexico. Data were collected from all emergency department visits over a 4-week period. Patient and physician questionnaires were administered to assess aspects of emergency department use, including appropriateness based on published criteria, physicians' opinion of appropriateness, groups who made inappropriate visits, and the perception of the need for and the urgency of a visit. We found that 32% of visits were inappropriate based on published criteria and 24% were considered inappropriate by physician opinion. Two groups with a high rate of inappropriate visits were Hispanics and Medicaid recipients. Patients and physicians have differing opinions of the urgency of a visit and of how soon medical treatment is required. To decrease the frequency of inappropriate use of emergency departments, educational efforts should be focused on the subgroups with high rates of such use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-42
Number of pages5
JournalWestern Journal of Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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