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Characteristics of Patients Who Return to the Emergency Department Within 72 Hours in One Community Hospital

White, Debra MN, ARNP, NP-C, ACHPN; Kaplan, Louise PhD, ARNP, FNP-BC, FAANP; Eddy, Linda PhD, RN, CPNP

doi: 10.1097/TME.0b013e31823438d6
Cases of Note

This study identifies characteristics of patients who return to the emergency department (ED) within 72 hr after an initial visit. An exploratory quantitative descriptive study was conducted to identify characteristics of patients with unscheduled 72 hr ED returns. The sample consisted of all patients with 72 hr ED return visits for the month of January 2009 at the study facility. Data were collected from electronic patient records utilizing the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey instrument modified to eliminate patient identifiers. There were 169 individuals who had at least one 72 hr return visit to the ED for a total of 393 initial and return ED visits. The most common diagnoses were for gastrointestinal complaints. Over a third of the patients who returned had chronic health conditions. There were more emergency department return visits in individuals who lacked access to primary care.

Peace Health, St. John Medical Center, Longview, Washington (Ms White); American Nurses Association, Silver Spring, Maryland (Dr Kaplan); and Washington State University, Vancouver, Washington (Dr Eddy).

Disclosure: The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Corresponding Author: Louise Kaplan, PhD, ARNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, American Nurses Association, Silver Spring, MD (

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.