(HealthDay News) — Perceived inability to access timely follow-up care and uncertainty and fear about disease progression are the main reasons for return visits to the emergency department, according to a study published online September 2 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Kristin L. Rising, MD, from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted 60 semistructured, qualitative interviews of adult patients with an unscheduled return to the emergency department within nine days of an index emergency department discharge. A modified grounded theory approach was used to identify themes.

The researchers found that most patients were satisfied with the index discharge process, but many had complaints about the clinical care, including inadequate assessment and treatment. Fear or uncertainty about their condition was cited as the primary reason for returning to the emergency department. Although most patients had a primary care physician, visits to the physician were rare before returning to the emergency department. Convenience and more expedited evaluations were cited as the main reasons for seeking care in the emergency department versus the clinic.

“Further work is needed to develop alternative pathways for patients to ask questions and seek guidance when and where they want,” write the authors.

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