RATIONALE, AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The inappropriate use and overcrowding of emergency departments (EDs) by walk-in patients are well-known problems in many countries. The current study aimed to determine whether ambulatory walk-in patients could be treated more efficiently in a new hospital-integrated general practice (HGP) for emergency care services compared to a traditional ED.
METHODS: We conducted a pre-post comparison before and after the implementation of a new HGP. Participants were walk-in patients attending the ED of a city hospital in Zurich. Main outcome measures were differences in total process time, time intervals between stages of care and diagnostic resources used.
RESULTS: The median process time from admission to discharge was 120 minutes in the ED [interquartile range (IQR): 80-165] versus 60 minutes in the HGP (IQR: 40-90) (P < 0.001). The adjusted odds ratio of receiving any additional diagnostics was 1.86 (95% confidence interval 1.06-3.27; P = 0.032) for ED doctors versus general practitioners (GPs) when controlling for patients' age, sex and injury-related medical problems.
CONCLUSION: The HGP is an efficient way to manage walk-in patients with regard to process time and utilization of additional diagnostic resources. The involvement of GPs in the HGPs should be considered as a promising model to overcome the inappropriate use of resources in EDs for walk-in patients who can be treated by ambulatory care.