The aim of this study from Hutchinson et al. was to explore the reasons for and experiences of patients who make an unplanned return visit to the emergency department.
Interviews from 13 participants generated findings related to experiences at and following their initial visit that contributed to their decision to return to the emergency department. Four themes were developed: (1) Patients experience barriers to feeling heard and having their concerns addressed; (2) Patients have little choice but to place their trust in clinicians; (3) Patients unexpectedly experience persistent symptoms which cannot be managed at home; and (4) Patients develop a sense of urgency about having their condition treated.
The study concluded that a negative experience at the initial ED visit may have dual conflicting impacts. It can contribute to patients' perceived need for a return visit because they are ill-equipped to manage their condition at home, and it can also contribute to their initial reluctance to return to the ED when symptoms persist. Nurses and other clinicians working in ED need to actively build patient's experiential trust through clear communication, timely consultation and shared decision-making at discharge, which in turn can increase patient's confidence and capability to self-manage their condition.