Walk-in patients who do not require urgent treatment at an emergency department (ED) are a known and long-standing problem. This study aims to investigate the characteristics of walk-in patients visiting the ED over time. During four days in June 2012, all walk-in patients attending the ED of the University Hospital Brussels between 8 AM and 11 PM were recorded. A similar registration took place in the same ED in June 2001. Patients completed a questionnaire about their characteristics and the reason for the encounter. Data of both study periods were compared. The mean age of the patients attending the ED was significantly lower in 2001 (40.9 years) than in 2012 (43.9 years) (p=0,02). In 2001, 81% of the participants had Belgian nationality, but in 2012 this proportion increased to 90% (p=0.008). In 2001 as well as in 2012, 21% of the participants had a referral from their family physician (FP) (p=0.9). The proportion of patients that were aware that FP could also handle some emergencies increased from 17% in 2001 to 29% in 2012 (p=0.003). More patients had complaints that begun less than 24h before they attended the ED (48% in 2001 and 58% in 2012) (p=0.03). The walk-in patients at the ED are getting slightly older and are attending the ED faster after the onset of the complaints. More patients judge their complaints as urgent. However, more patients are getting aware that FP also could handle some emergencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-42
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Medicine and Life
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2019

    Research areas

  • Emergencies, emergency department, family practice

ID: 45836655