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P154: Exploring health care connections and transitions in care for patients presenting to emergency departments with acute wheezing illnesses

  • B. H. Rowe (a1), C. Villa-Roel (a1), M. Bhutani (a1), S. Couperthwaite (a1) and N. Runham (a1)...

Abstract

Introduction: Asthma and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations often result in emergency department (ED) visits. This study examined the health-related personnel providing regular care to patients with asthma and/or COPD, as well as, explored the coordination of care between the ED and outpatient settings. Methods: Descriptive cross-sectional examination of patients presenting with asthma and/or COPD exacerbations to two EDs in Edmonton between August and December 2017. Using patient interview methods information on demographics, established health care connections and health system use was collected; information on consultations, disposition and referrals was collected through chart review methods. Results: A total of 50 patients were recruited (14 patients with asthma and 36 patients with COPD). Most of the patients with asthma were female (64%) and their median age was 36 years (interquartile range [IQR]: 29, 46); sex was evenly distributed among the patients with COPD and their median age was 68 years (IQR: 61, 78). The majority reported having a family doctor (86% of the patients with asthma and 94% of the patients with COPD). On the day of admission to the ED, 29% of the patients with asthma visited their family doctor while 42% of the patients with COPD visited their Respirologist; these doctors referred >70% of the patients to the ED. While in the ED, consultations were requested in 21% of the patients with asthma (all to Pulmonary) and in 78% of the patients with COPD (evenly divided between Medicine and Pulmonary). Transition coordinators and social workers were involved in the ED care of <15% of the patients with COPD. Most patients with asthma were discharged home (86%) and 64% of the patients with COPD were hospitalized. After discharge, 14% of the patients with asthma and 50% of the patients with COPD were referred to specialized care. Conclusion: While the study patients with asthma and COPD had different health professionals providing regular care to their respiratory conditions, they both sought care before presenting to the ED. More health professionals were involved in the ED care of patients with COPD than of those with asthma. This study provided important information to support further research projects exploring ways to effectively and efficiently improve the delivery, comprehensiveness and utilization of health care services.

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