What is it about?

There are patients who frequently visit emergency departments (ED). Studies of this population mainly occurred in the North America and found that frequent ED users had complex, chronic, unmet needs with high healthcare costs. We wanted to study if there were frequent ED users in Örebro, Sweden and what their shared characteristics could be. We found that about 6% of ED patients were frequent users and accounted for 22% of ED visits and associated costs. This population was more likely to be male, self-referred, present with abdominal pain, arrive by ambulance at night and from the Örebro municipal region.

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Why is it important?

Around the world, health care costs are increasing and very concerning for governments and the public. High-quality healthcare should be cost-effective and address patients’ health-related needs. Patients seeking ED care with repeated visits suggest that their needs are not being met despite repeated visits with associated costs. Therefore, this is a vulnerable population who require better care. Studies suggest that coordinating care between healthcare providers, facilities and the community is a better approach and could decrease ED visits. It is important to understand this population to develop a tailored coordinated care plan for improved health.


“Our study found that high frequency ED users are costly - not only in North America, but also in Sweden. Since we only studied a single hospital in Örebro, we recommend studying this vulnerable population nationally. We also recommend that high frequency ED users be a quality marker of integration and cost-effectiveness within a healthcare system. This can stimulate local quality improvement projects to improve the care for this population.”

Ivy Cheng
University of Toronto

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: An observational pilot study: Prevalence and cost of high frequency emergency department users at Örebro University Hospital, Sweden, PLoS ONE, September 2022, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0274622.
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