Introduction: Overcrowding in emergency departments (EDs) is a constant problem. One of the major factors contributing to this situation is the inappropriate ED use by patients with low-acuity problems. In order to reduce overuse, EDs have developed agreements with clinics to reorient low-acuity ambulatory patients toward them. These agreements often leave the burden of decision on the triage personnel as to which patients can be safely redirected. The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety of redirecting patients to nearby medical clinics and to evaluate their satisfaction with this program. Methods: In the ED of a tertiary care facility, a computer-based algorithm allowing triage personnel to reorient patients presenting with one of 52 medical complaints, was implemented in 2016. Our prospective cohort study was composed of reorientation admissible ED patients between March 2017 and August 2017. Patient safety was evaluated with patient follow-up phone interviews one week after their visit to the ED to identify the number of patients who needed to return to a medical facility after their reorientation. Patient satisfaction with the reorientation program was evaluated during the same follow-ups. Results: Of the 980 reoriented patients interviewed, only 57 (5.9%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.57.5) had to unexpectedly go back to a health care facility. None of these returns were for severe complications. Over 84% of the reoriented patients were satisfied with their reorientation and 89% say they would use this program again. Having a transportation problem was most common reason mentioned by patients for refusing to be reoriented. Conclusion: Reorientation to medical clinics using a new computer-based algorithm was safe and no case of urgent return was seen during the 6-month study period. In addition, patients who were reoriented to medical clinics were satisfied by their treatment experience.
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