Paediatric emergency department referrals from primary care.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Aust Health Rev, 2016, 40, (6), pp. 691-695
Issue Date:
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Background Over the last decade, paediatric referrals from general practitioners (GPs) to the emergency department (ED) have increased by 60% in Australia. Objective To investigate the characteristics of Victorian children referred by GPs to the ED with lower-urgency conditions. Method Data were collected from four hospital EDs in Victoria, May-November 2014. Parents attending the ED with their child triaged as lower urgency were surveyed. Descriptive, frequency, and bivariate analyses were performed. Results Of the 1150 responses, 28% (320) visited their GP before attending ED. Of these 66% (212), were referred by their GP. A greater proportion with injury than illness (84% vs 59%; P<0.0001) was referred to the ED if they had first visited their GP. Conclusion Motivations of GPs to send lower-urgency injured and ill children to ED are not well understood. The high number of referrals from GPs to the ED for lower urgency conditions suggests attention by policy makers and health professionals must be paid to the current patterns of care of children in general practice. What is known about the topic? Paediatric referrals in Australia from GPs to EDs have increased in the last decade, along with the absolute number of children in Victoria presenting to the ED. What does this paper add? A significant number of children (66%) who attend the GP before visiting the ED are referred to the ED for their lower urgency condition. What are the implications for practitioners? It may be appropriate for GPs to be further supported to manage lower urgency conditions, through better resources or education.
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