1887
Volume 2014, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0253-8253
  • E-ISSN: 2227-0426

Abstract

The use of emergency department (ED) services for non-urgent conditions is well-studied in many Western countries but much less so in the Middle East and Gulf region. While the consequences are universal—a drain on ED resources and poor patient outcomes—the causes and solutions are likely to be region and country specific. Unique social and economic circumstances also create gender-specific motivations for patient attendance. Alleviating demand on ED services requires understanding these circumstances, as past studies have shown. We undertook this study to understand why female patients with low-acuity conditions choose the emergency department in Qatar over other healthcare options. Prospective study at Hamad General Hospital's (HGH) emergency department female “see-and-treat” unit that treats low-acuity cases. One hundred female patients were purposively recruited to participate in the study. Three trained physicians conducted semi-structured interviews with patients over a three-month period after they had been treated and given informed consent. The study found that motivations for ED attendance were systematically influenced by employment status as an expatriate worker. Forty percent of the sample had been directed to the ED by their employers, and the vast majority (89%) of this group cited employer preference as the primary reason for choosing the ED. The interviews revealed that a major obstacle to workers using alternative facilities was the lack of a government-issued health card, which is available to all citizens and residents at a nominal rate. Reducing the number of low-acuity cases in the emergency department at HGH will require interventions aimed at encouraging patients with non-urgent conditions to use alternative healthcare facilities. Potential interventions include policy changes that require employers to either provide workers with a health card or compel employees to acquire one for themselves.

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2015-01-01
2019-08-18
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