Uncompleted emergency department care: patients who leave against medical advice.Acad Emerg Med. 2007 Oct; 14(10):870-6.AE
To compare the patient characteristics, clinical conditions, and short-term recidivism rates of emergency department (ED) patients who leave against medical advice (AMA) with those who leave without being seen (LWBS) or complete their ED care.
All eligible patients who visited the ED between July 1, 2004, and June 30, 2005 (N = 31,252) were classified into one of four groups: 1) AMA (n = 857), 2) LWBS (n = 2,767), 3) admitted (n = 8,894), or 4) discharged (n = 18,734). The patient characteristics, primary diagnosis, and 30-day rates of emergent hospitalizations, nonemergent hospitalizations, and ED discharge visits were compared between patients who left AMA and each of the other study groups. A Cox proportional hazards model was used to examine the influence of study group status on the risk of emergent hospitalization, adjusted for patient characteristics.
Patients who left AMA were significantly more likely to be uninsured or covered by Medicaid compared with those admitted or discharged (p < 0.001). The AMA visit rates were highest for nausea and vomiting (9.7%), abdominal pain (7.9%), and nonspecific chest pain (7.6%). During the 30-day follow-up period, patients who left AMA had significantly higher emergent hospitalization and ED discharge visit rates compared with each of the other study groups (p < 0.001). Insurance status, male gender, and higher acuity level were also associated with a significantly higher emergent hospitalization rate.
Patients who leave AMA may do so prematurely, as evidenced by higher emergent hospitalization rates compared with those who LWBS or complete their care.