A cross-sectional study of the clinical characteristics of cancer patients presenting to one tertiary referral emergency department

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Emergency Nursing, 2016, 24 pp. 35 - 38
Issue Date:
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© 2015. Introduction: There is increasing evidence of cancer patients presenting to emergency departments (ED). The study aim was to analyse the characteristics of adult cancer patients presenting to one ED. Understanding cancer patient presentations could assist in the development of new models of care. Methods: A 12 month retrospective audit was conducted of a random sample of cancer patients. Demographics and characteristic variables were analysed using descriptive, comparative and correlational statistics. Results: The presentation rate for adult cancer patients was 1110 (2.4%) with 290 sampled. The common symptoms were fever (n = 54: 18.6%), abdominal pain (n = 34: 11.7%), and shortness of breath (. n = 32: 11%). The majority of patients were allocated a Triage Category 2 (n = 94: 32.4%) or Triage Category 3 (n = 131: 45.2%). The majority of patients presented between 2 and 15 times. For patients administered antibiotics the average time was 119.8 minutes (SD ± 85.5). The average ED length of stay was mean 8.08 hours with 271 patients (93.4%) admitted to the hospital. Of the 290 patients, 105 (36.2%) had died within 12 months of ED presentation. Conclusion: The study has shown that while cancer patients are only a small percentage of ED presentations the vast majority are allocated high triage codes, have high admission rates and high mortality rates.
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