Individual and medical characteristics of adults presenting to an urban emergency department in Ghana
Background: The aims of this study were to characterize the patients seeking acute care for injury and noninjury complaints in an urban Emergency Department in Ghana in order to 1) inform the curriculum of the newly developed Emergency Medicine resident training program 2) improve treatment processes, and 3) direct future community-wide injury prevention policies
Study Design: A prospective cross-sectional survey of patients 18 years or older seeking care in an urban Accident and Emergency Center (AEC) was conducted between 7/13/2009 and 7/30/2009. Questionnaires were administered by trained research staff and each survey took 10-15 minutes to complete. Patients were asked questions regarding demographics, overall health and chief complaint.
Results: 254 patients were included in the sample. Participants’ chief complaints were classified as either medical or injury-related. Approximately one third (38%) of patients presented with injuries and 62% presented for medical complaints. The most common injury at presentation was due to a road traffic injury, followed by falls and assault/fight. The most common medical presentation was abdominal pain followed by difficulty breathing and fainting/ blackout. Only 13% arrived to AEC by ambulance and 51% were unable to ambulate at the time of presentation.
Conclusion: Approximately one-third of non-fatal adult visits were for acute injury. Future research should focus on developing surveillance systems for both medical and trauma patients. Physicians that are specifically trained to manage both the acutely injured patient and the medical patient will serve this population well given the variety of patients that seek care at the AEC.
Keywords: Emergency Medicine, Injury, Surveillance, Ghana, Characteristics
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