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Return visits to the Emergency Department (ED) are estimated between 2-3.1%, which impacts ED care costs and wait times. Adverse events for unscheduled return visits (URVs) have been reported to be as high as 30%. The objective of this study was to characterize the attitudes and management of Emergency Medicine (EM) physicians regarding patients presenting with the same chief complaint to the ED for an URV. An online survey questionnaire was developed and sent to 160 accredited EM Graduate Medical Education programs in the United States. The questionnaire consisted of case vignettes wherein providers were asked to submit what orders they would place for each scenario. The mean numbers of tests and treatments were compared from initial visit to repeat visit with same chief complaint. Physicians also provided feedback regarding their management of URVs. There were estimated 6988 eligible participants with 397 responses (response rate 5.7%). There was a statistical significance (P<0.001) in provider management of URVs with pediatric fever, but there was no statistical significance for management of the other chief complaints. There were 77% of physicians that felt an increased work up is warranted for URVs. The results of this study indicate that majority of EM residents and staff working in training programs feel that they should approach the management of URV patients with a more extensive workup despite no clinical change. These findings suggest that further analysis should be performed regarding provider management of URVs and the associated healthcare costs.
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