Over the past years, emergency departments have been experiencing an increased number of nonurgent visits. The purpose of this rapid review was to understand why patients go to emergency departments for nonurgent reasons, and the implications for primary care. We searched PubMed and Scopus to obtain relevant studies related to the research topic. The eligibility criteria included studies written in English, performed in the United States, and published in the last 10 years. There were 10 studies analyzed and used in the rapid review. Several factors were found to influence patients' decisions to visit emergency departments for nonurgent reasons including lack of access to primary care physicians, sociodemographic factors (gender, race, and living in medically underserved areas), patients perceiving their conditions as medical emergencies, and convenience. Patients identified a lack of access to primary care in many ways: difficulty finding primary care because of geographic location or appointment constraints related to office hours; a lack of new patient openings in primary care practices; not having a primary care physician; or distrust of primary care physicians because patients perceived they would receive better care in emergency departments. Increasing the accessibility of primary care physicians might help decrease the tremendous number of visits emergency departments are experiencing; and would allow emergency department services to better serve patients with urgent needs. Additional research must be done on patients not trusting primary care physicians, because while authors have addressed a lack of trust between patients and primary care providers, they have not discussed solutions to address these perceptions.
Coulibaly, Goundo; Leader, DrPH, MPH, Amy; and Frasso, PhD, CPH, Rosemary, "Understanding Why Patients Utilize the Emergency Department for Nonurgent Reasons: Implications for Primary Care" (2020). Master of Public Health Capstone Presentations. Presentation 335.