Why do patients seek primary medical care in emergency departments?

MacKichan, F. (2017) BMJ Open. 7:e013816

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Objectives: To describe how processes of primary care access influence decisions to seek help at the emergency department (ED).

Conclusions: This study provides important insight into the implicit role of primary care access on the use of ED. Discourses around ‘inappropriate’ patient demand neglect to recognise that decisions about where to seek urgent care are based on experiential knowledge. Simply speeding up access to primary care or increasing its volume is unlikely to alleviate rising ED use. Systems for accessing care need to be transparent, perceptibly fair and appropriate to the needs of diverse patient groups.

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