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Schuettig, Wiebke; Sundmacher, Leonie (2019): Ambulatory care-sensitive emergency department cases: a mixed methods approach to systemize and analyze cases in Germany. In: European Journal of Public Health, Vol. 29, No. 6: pp. 1024-1030
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Abstract

Background: Internationally, emergency departments (ED) are treating increasing numbers of patients with conditions that could have been managed appropriately in ambulatory care (AC) settings. The aim of our study was to develop the first consensus-based list of AC-sensitive conditions commonly seen in German EDs and explore predictors of these visits. Methods: Our study used a Delphi survey of 30 physicians to compile a list of conditions they agreed were amenable to AC treatment. The group identified reasons why patients visit EDs instead of AC. We used the results to inform spatial regression models analysing the association of patient characteristics and attributes of AC with AC-sensitive ED visits based on 2015 district-level data. Results: Our study provides a list of AC-sensitive conditions based on the German ED context. Results suggest that, up to the age of 70 years, the older the patients, the less likely they seek EDs for these conditions. Results of our regression analyses suggest that AC-sensitive ED rates were significantly higher in districts with lower physician density. Patients' urgency perception and preferences were identified as main drivers of AC-sensitive ED visits. Conclusion: Future policy measures should aim to help guide patients through the healthcare system so that they receive the best care in place that is most appropriate in terms of quality, safety and continuity of care. A list of AC-sensitive ED conditions can be used as a monitoring instrument and for further analyses of routine data to inform policy makers seeking to improve resource use and allocation.