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First-visit patients without a referral to the Department of Internal Medicine at a medium-sized acute care hospital in Japan: an observational study

Authors Kajiwara N, Hayashi K, Misago M, Murakami S, Ueoka T

Received 20 July 2017

Accepted for publication 6 September 2017

Published 4 October 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 335—345


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Nobuyuki Kajiwara,1 Kazuyuki Hayashi,1 Masahiro Misago,2 Shinichiro Murakami,2 Takato Ueoka2

1Department of Nephrology, Ikeda City Hospital, 2Department of General Medicine, Ikeda City Hospital, Johnan, Osaka, Japan

Purpose: We sought to profile first-time patients without a referral who sought medical care at the Department of Internal Medicine at a medium-sized acute care hospital in Japan. We anticipated that the analysis would highlight the demand for medical care needs from acute care hospitals and help confirm one of the problems associated with primary care in Japan.
Patients and methods: The study population comprised 765 patients who sought outpatient consultation without a referral at “the Department of General Internal Medicine” at the Ikeda City Hospital on Fridays over 4 years. Data on the following variables were collected: age, sex, examination date, reason for encounter (RFE), diagnosis, as well as history of consultation with or without antibiotic treatment at another medical institution for the same RFE. We used the International Classicication of Primary Care, Revised Second edition (ICPC-2-R) codes for RFEs and diagnoses.
Results: The main RFE fields were digestive (ICPC-2-R Chapter D), general and unspecified (A), and respiratory (R). The main diagnosis fields were digestive (D), respiratory (R), general and unspecified (A), and musculoskeletal (L). In total, 27.6% of patients had sought consultation at another medical institution for the same RFE. Of these, 64.7% of patients for whom the RFE was cough (ICPC-2-R code, R05), and 72.0% for whom the RFE was fever (A03) were prescribed antibiotics. In total, 62.4% of patients underwent emergency investigations and waited for the results; 4.3% were hospitalized on the same day; and 60.5% were medicated at the initial examination. In 11.5%, the main underlying problem appeared to be psychosomatic.
Conclusion: We used the ICPC-2-R to analyze the state of first-visit patients without a referral visiting the Department of Internal Medicine at a medium-sized acute care hospital in Japan. Common RFEs were abdominal pain, cough, and fever. A tendency toward overprescription of antibiotics was observed among primary care physicians.

Keywords: medium-sized hospital, general internal medicine, general practice, reason for encounter, International Classification of Primary Care, antibiotic overuse

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