University of Limerick
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Emergency departments as the health safety nets of society: a descriptive and multicenter analysis of social worker support in the emergency room

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-10-03, 08:39 authored by Sasha Selby, Dongmei Wang, Eoin Murray, Eddie Lang
Introduction Social Work (SW) referrals made in the emergency department (ED) highlight the weaknesses in the existing support system for vulnerable and disadvantaged patients. SW personnel play a pivotal role in some EDs but are not integrated into the team in several jurisdictions. Our objective was to provide a detailed description of the need for SW support in the ED setting by describing SW consultation patterns in an urban ED location. Methods A three-year analysis of ED SW referrals made through a network of four acute care hospitals serving a city population of 1.2 million inhabitants where social workers operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The study design was descriptive reporting proportions. The descriptors of interest were the types of ED patients receiving SW consultations and the reasons for patient referral to the SW Department. Results During the study period, there were 46,970 SW consultations, representing 8.02% of the 572,804 patients who visited the ED across Calgary, yielding 42.9 referrals per day to social workers through the ED. Consultations for domestic violence were three times more prevalent for women (6% of referrals). However, domestic violence consultations were still an active issue for men (1.9%). Comparisons by age group yielded illness adjustments (15.3%), discharge planning (31.2%), and legal decision making (23.9%) as the most common reasons for referral of patients over 75 years old; 92.8% of patients over 75 years were admitted following the SW consultation. Reasons for deferral of patients under 30 years of age were illness adjustments (12.2%), discharge planning (16.4 %), and legal decision making (1.4%); 57.3% of patients under 30 years were admitted following the consultation. Addiction/drug use and homelessness were more common in those under the age of 30, comprising 24.1% and 15.4% of the SW referrals, respectively, compared to 1.6% and 0.4% of referrals for those over age 75, respectively. Conclusions The demand for SW support is significant and complex in these large urban EDs. However, the impact on patient care and resource use is substantial, and the data indicates that SW



Cureus;10(9): e3247


Cureus, Inc





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