Factors associated with failure to follow-up at a medical clinic after an ED visit

Sassan Naderi, Barbara Barnett, Robert S. Hoffman, Resul Dalipi, Lauren Houdek, Kumar Alagappan, Robert Silverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background: Although emergency department (ED) discharge is often based on the presumption of continued care, the reported compliance rate with follow-up appointments is low. Study Objectives: The objectives of this study are to identify factors associated with missed follow-up appointments from the ED and to assess the ability of clinicians to predict which patients will follow-up. Methods: Patients without insurance or an outpatient primary care provider (PCP) were given a follow-up clinic appointment before discharge. Information identifying potential follow-up barriers was collected, and the physician's perception of the likelihood of follow-up was recorded. Patients who missed their appointment were contacted via telephone and were offered a questionnaire and a rescheduled clinic appointment. Results: A total of 125 patients with no PCP were enrolled. Sixty (48%; 95% confidence interval, 39-57) kept their scheduled appointment. Sex, distance from clinic, availability of transportation, or time since last nonemergent physician visit was associated with attendance to the follow-up visit. Clinicians were unable to predict which patients would follow-up. Contact by telephone was made in 48 (74%) of patients who failed to follow-up. Of the 14 patients willing to reschedule, none returned for follow-up. Conclusion: Among ED patients who lack a PCP and are given a clinic appointment from the ED, less than half keep the appointment. Moreover, clinicians are unable to predict which patients will follow up. This study highlights the difficulty in maintaining continuity of care in populations who are self-pay or have Medicaid and lack regular providers. This may have implications on discharge planning from the ED.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-351
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


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