Original Research

Emergency care visits at a South African hospital: Implications for healthcare services and policy

Jacob A. Adewole, John M. Tumbo, Henry I. Okonta
South African Family Practice | Vol 66, No 1 : Part 2| a5816 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v66i1.5816 | © 2024 Jacob A. Adewole, John M. Tumbo, Henry I. Okonta | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 August 2023 | Published: 18 March 2024

About the author(s)

Jacob A. Adewole, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Brits District Hospital, Bojanala District, Rustenburg, South Africa
John M. Tumbo, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Health Services Department, Bojanala District, Rustenburg, South Africa
Henry I. Okonta, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Background: A robust knowledge on the pattern of use of emergency care resources not only serves as an indicator of universal access to care but also provides a basis for quality improvement within the health system. This study was undertaken to describe the pattern of emergency room visits at Brits District Hospital (BDH) in North West province, South Africa. The objectives of this study were to determine the sociodemographic characteristics of emergency department (ED) users and other patterns of ED use.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional descriptive study that was conducted at a district hospital. All patients who reported for emergency care in the ED in 2016 were eligible for the study. Data were extracted and analysed from a systematic sample of 355 clinical notes and hospital administrative records.

Results: The age group that visited the ED most frequently (25.3%) was 25–34 years old. A high proportion of the ED users (60%) were self-referred, and only 38% were transported by the emergency medical response services (EMRS). Few (5.6%) presentations were of a non-urgent nature. Trauma-related conditions accounted for the most frequent presentation at the ED (36.5%).

Conclusion: Although most ED users were self-referred, their clinical presentations were appropriate and underscore the need for policy strategies to reduce the burden of trauma in the catchment population

Contribution: The study findings may have an impact on future health policies by providing decision-makers with baseline information on the pattern of use of ED resources, ensuring better resource deployment and greater access to care.


Keywords

accident and emergency; triage; district hospital; visits; acuity; disposal

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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