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The potential role of primary care in the management of common ear, nose or throat disorders presenting to the emergency department in Greece

BackgroundThe aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of common ear, nose or throat (ENT) conditions presenting to emergency departments that could be managed by a primary healthcare system Method Between January 2001 and January 2006 a total of 33 792 patients attended the ENT emergency department of one hospital. All cases were included in this retrospective study. The registry of ENT emergency department was analysed; age, sex and clinical diagnosis were tabulated. All patients were evaluated by a specialist. Classification of the cases was based on the main symptom seeking care. Results A total of 33 792 patients visited the otorhinolaryngology emergency department.Of these, 17 775 patients (52.6%) were men and 16 017 (47.4%) were women. Over 40% of the cases were classified in eight major groups of diagnosis. Acute tonsillitis (12.5%) and acute pharyngitis (11.4%) followed by acute otitis externa (5.9%) were the most common causes of all ENT emergency department visits. The admission rate was 1.2 % and only 0.6% (84) of patients were referred to other specialties. Conclusion Most common ENT disorders presenting to the emergency department in Greece could be managed at the level of primary health care. Incorporating ENT expertise into educational and training programmes of general practitioners may be successful in managing ENT problems in primary care in future.


Ioanna Vasileiou, Athanasios Giannopoulos, Chris Klonaris, Kostas Vlasis, Spyros Marinos, Andreas Tsitsikas, George Marinos

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