Demand and characteristics of a psychiatric 24-hour emergency service performed by mandatory rotation of licensed psychiatrists in Swiss primary care
Corinne Chmiel, Thomas Rosemann, Oliver Senn
Institute of General Practice and Health Services Research, University of Zurich, Raemistrasse, Zurich, Switzerland
Background: To investigate characteristics of and satisfaction with psychiatric 24-hour emergency primary care performed by mandatory rotation of licensed psychiatrists as a viable baseline for possible reorganizational measures.
Methods: This was a questionnaire-based cross-sectional study (November 2010–April 2011). The number of patient–psychiatrist encounters, modes of contact, and patient and psychiatrist characteristics were assessed. Diagnoses were coded with ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases, version 10).
Results: From 167 duty episodes, 74 (44%) were recorded. Of the psychiatrists (n44), 52% were female, and mean age (standard deviation) was 49.9 (5.2) years. The median number of encounters per episode was 4 (interquartile range 0–8), mainly in the evenings. Demand for “face-to-face” (direct) patient visits was significantly more common (64.0%) than practice (1.3%) or telephone consultations (34.7%). In 83.8%, psychiatrists judged the encounter as adequate at the patient’s location. A total of 43 different diagnoses were recorded: mainly schizophrenic disorders (23.9%), suicidal behavior (15.2%), and acute stress reactions (10.3%). Psychiatrists felt burdened by services (62.5%): in 39.2%, they felt threatened; and in 6.8%, violence occurred. In 32.4%, bills were not paid for. If services were optional, 45.2% would participate.
Conclusion: Our findings indicate justified demand for direct mobile patient visits, suggesting that emergency care should be multifaceted, and sole provision of psychiatric care at stationed emergency facilities may not always be appropriate. Reorganization of 24-hour emergency services should carefully evaluate patient and provider’s needs before changing established structures.
Keywords: primary health care, after-hours care, emergencies, satisfaction, psychiatry
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