Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Previously Published Works bannerUC Berkeley

Characteristics and determinants of high-risk unscheduled return visits to the emergency department


BACKGROUND:High-risk unscheduled return visits (HRURVs), defined as return visits within 72 hours that require admission or die in the emergency department (ED) on representation, are a key quality metric in the ED. The objective of this study was to determine the incidence and describe the characteristics and predictors of HRURVs to the ED. METHODS:Case-control study, conducted between 1 November 2014 and 31 October 2015. Cases included all HRURVs over the age of 18 that presented to the ED. Controls were selected from patients who were discharged from the ED during the study period and did not return in the next 72 hours. Controls were matched to cases based on gender, age (±5 years) and date of presentation. RESULTS:Out of 38 886 ED visits during the study period, 271 are HRURVs, giving an incidence of HRURV of 0.70% (95% CI 0.62% to 0.78%). Our final analysis includes 270 HRURV cases and 270 controls, with an in-ED mortality rate of 0.7%, intensive care unit admission of 11.1% and need for surgical intervention of 22.2%. After adjusting for other factors, HRURV cases are more likely to be discharged with a diagnosis related to digestive system or infectious disease (OR 1.64, 95% CI 1.02 to 2.65 and OR 2.81, 95% CI 1.05 to 7.51, respectively). Furthermore, presentation to the ED during off-hours is a significant predictor of HRURV (OR 1.64, 95% CI 1.11 to 2.43) as is the presence of a handover during the patient visit (OR 1.68, 95% CI 1.02 to 2.75). CONCLUSION:HRURV is an important key quality outcome metric that reflects a subgroup of ED patients with specific characteristics and predictors. Efforts to reduce this HRURV rate should focus on interventions targeting patients discharged with digestive system, kidney and urinary tract and infectious diseases diagnosis as well as exploring the role of handover tools in reducing HRURVs.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View