The Cost of Leaving the Emergency Department without Notice; a Cross-sectional Study
Introduction: Leaving the hospital without notice is among the problems that can inflict financial and non-financial burdens on the health care system of a country. Objective: The present study was carried out with the aim of evaluating the prevalence of leaving without notice cases in the emergency department (ED) of one of the major teaching hospitals of Tehran affiliated with Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and calculating the direct costs resulting from it. Methods: This study was a retrospective cross-sectional one carried out during 1 year from 2016 to 2017 in one of the teaching hospitals of Tehran affiliated with Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences. Sampling was performed via census method and the study population consisted of the profiles of all the patients who had left the hospital without notice or checking out after being admitted to the hospital. To gather the required data for this study, a checklist consisting of questions regarding sex, age, insurance coverage, and the amount of money they owed the hospital was used. Statistical analysis was performed using the software IBM Statistics for Windows v22 and P-value<0.05 was considered significant. Results: Out of the total of 39946 patients visiting the ED of the studied hospital during 1 year, 1692 (4.2%) had left the hospital without checking out. Below 30 years age range was the most common age range with 46.9% (794 patients) and 72.9% of the patients leaving without notice were men. Based on the findings obtained, male patients without insurance coverage had attempted to leave the hospital without notice more than others (p<0.001). The total cost inflicted by leaving without notice throughout the studied year was 1,755,286,279 Rials, which is equal to 0.0059 of the total annual income of the ED. Conclusion: Throughout the year this study was performed, a total of 1.2% of all the visitors of the ED of a hospital affiliated with Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences left the hospital without notice or checking out, which inflicted a considerable cost on the ED.
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