Comparison and outcomes of emergency department presentations with respiratory disorders among Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous patients

Subash S. Heraganahally, Ram H. Ghimire, Timothy Howarth, Oshini M. Kankanamalage, Didier Palmer, Henrik Falhammar

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Background: There is sparse evidence in the literature assessing emergency department presentation with respiratory disorders among Indigenous patients. The objective of this study was to evaluate the clinical characteristics and outcomes for Indigenous Australians in comparison to non-Indigenous patients presenting to Emergency Department (ED) with respiratory disorders. Methods: In this study, two non-contiguous one-month study periods during wet (January) and dry (August) season were reported on, and differences in demographics, respiratory diagnosis, hospital admission, length of hospital stay, re-presentation to hospital after discharge and mortality between Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous patients was assessed. Results: There were a total of 528 respiratory ED presentations, 258 (49%) during wet and 270 (51%) in dry season, from 477 patients (52% female and 40% Indigenous). The majority of ED presentations (84%) were self-initiated, with a difference between Indigenous (80%) and non-Indigenous (88%) presentations. Indigenous presentations recorded a greater proportion of transfers from another healthcare facility compared to non-Indigenous presentations (11% vs. 1%). Less than half of presentations (42%) resulted in admission to the ward with no difference by Indigenous status. Lower respiratory tract infections were the most common cause of presentation (41%), followed by airway exacerbation (31%) which was more commonly seen among Indigenous (34%) than non-Indigenous (28%) presentations. Almost 20% of Indigenous patients reported multiple presentations to ED compared to 1% of non-Indigenous patients, though mortality on follow up did not differ (22% for both). Conclusions: The results of this study may be an avenue to explore possibilities of implementing programs that may be helpful to reduce preventable ED presentation and recurrent hospitalisations among Indigenous population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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