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World Journal of Emergency Medicine ›› 2020, Vol. 11 ›› Issue (2): 74-78.doi: 10.5847/wjem.j.1920-8642.2020.02.002

Special Issue: Survey on Emergency Medicine

• Original Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Presenting patterns of dermatology conditions to an Australian emergency department

Emily Shao1,2(), Chantelle Judge1, Erin McMeniman3, Tina Bazianas1, Rob Eley1,2   

  1. 1 Emergency Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Australia
    2 Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
    3 Dermatology Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Australia
  • Received:2019-07-10 Accepted:2019-09-21 Online:2020-04-01 Published:2020-04-01
  • Contact: Emily Shao


BACKGROUND: Approximately 5%-8% of emergency department (ED) presentations are due to a dermatological condition. This study aimed to identify and characterise patients with skin conditions presenting to a busy ED.

METHODS: A 5-year retrospective study on patients with dermatological conditions presenting to the Princess Alexandra Hospital ED in Brisbane, Australia was performed. Electronic medical records were used to compare demographics and admission status of the dermatology group and the total ED group presentations. A prospective survey was conducted on low priority triage (triage 4 and 5) patients identifying reasons presenting to the ED.

RESULTS: Of a total 281,718 ED presentations, 11,748 dermatology presentations were identified between January 2012 to December 2016. Of the dermatology presentations, 41.5% were female and had an average age of 47. The most common dermatology presentations were cellulitis, abscess, rash unspecified, and ulcer. Of those admitted, 36% were female, average age was 53, mean length of stay of 294 minutes and 83.1% had an infectious aetiology. Of triage 4 and 5 presentations, 66% patients we approached had been seen by a health practitioner prior to coming to the ED.

CONCLUSION: Within the population presenting with a skin related condition to the Princess Alexandra Hospital ED, characteristics associated with admission include male sex, older age, and an infectious etiology. This data may help ED clinicians decide on the discharge disposition of these patients. There may be a role for streamlined admissions for skin related infections, or improved hospital in the home services to support this group.

Key words: Pcellulitis, Skin, Dermatology, Emergency department