OBJECTIVE: Crowding is a growing concern in general and pediatric Emergency Departments (EDs). The Emergency Care Access Point (ECAP) - a collaboration between general practitioners and the ED - has been established to reduce the number of self-referrals and non-urgent ED visits. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of an ECAP on pediatric attendances in the ED.
METHODS: Retrospective analysis of 3997 pediatric patients who visited the ED of a regional teaching hospital in the Netherlands, one year before and one year after the implementation of an ECAP. Patient characteristics, presented complaints and diagnoses, throughput times, and follow-up between the study groups were compared, both during office hours and after-hours.
RESULTS: After ECAP implementation, a 16.3% reduction in pediatric ED visits was observed. ECAP implementation was associated with a decline in self-referrals by 97.2%. Presented complaints, ED diagnoses and acuity were similar pre- and post-ECAP. However, consultations and follow-up were required more frequently. The admission rate during nights increased (49.3% versus 64.0%). Overall admission rates were similar.
CONCLUSIONS: The implementation of an ECAP was associated with a reduction of pediatric ED use, including a considerable but expected decline in pediatric self-referrals. Patient acuity pre- and post-ECAP was similar. Our results suggest that this primary care intervention might help reduce the workload in a pediatric ED. Future studies are warranted to further investigate this hypothesis and to evaluate the impact of an ECAP in other healthcare settings. These future efforts need to include patient oriented outcomes.
- Primary care
- Emergency care access point
- Emergency department