Development and implementation of an emergency department telephone follow-up system

Oscar Ma, Mary Tanski, Beech Burns, Elizabeth F. Spizman, James A. Heilman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Implementing a telephone follow-up system after a patient's emergency department (ED) visit is challenging, but it may improve patient safety and care. This study's objective was to describe the development and implementation of a comprehensive ED telephone follow-up system over a 9-year period. Discharged patients who received a follow-up telephone call within 48 hours of their ED visit included all pediatric patients, those who left without being seen by a provider, and any adult patient with a "high-risk chief complaint," which was defined as a headache, visual problem, chest pain, dyspnea, abdominal pain, syncope, trauma, and neurological-related problems. There were 127 524 cases that met criteria to receive a follow-up call, with 138 331 attempted calls being made and 46 114 (36.2%) cases successfully followed up. Forty-two percent of pediatric cases and 16% of patients who left without being seen were successfully contacted with a follow-up call; 1.6% of cases were referred to the CQI Committee. In the 9 years prior and after implementation of this follow-up system, there were 3.5 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.1-5.9) and 2.5 (95% CI = 1.3-4.5) medical malpractice lawsuits per 100 000 ED patient visits, respectively; this represented a 28.6% reduction. A comprehensive telephone follow-up program can be developed and implemented utilizing available resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-15
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of healthcare risk management : the journal of the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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