This study was conducted to ascertain the clinical characteristics of patients who repeatedly attend accident and emergency (A&E) department seeking psychiatric assessment and care. We identified 24 individuals who attended frequently and compared them with 72 matched single attenders using data abstracted by chart review.
Individuals who attended frequently made up 5.3% of all patients who attended the A&E department for psychiatric care but accounted for 19% of all such presentations. Compared with controls, they were younger at first psychiatric contact and had higher rates of schizophrenia and psychiatric admissions.
A small but distinctive group of patients repeatedly seek and obtain hospital-based psychiatric care. Early identification of these patients and targeting them with effective, community-oriented strategies, such as home treatment, could improve their quality of life and prognoses as well as reduce the cost of their care.
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