Inability to follow up ED patients by telephone: There must be 50 ways to leave your number

Stephen L Adams*, David A Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the ability to complete follow-up home telephone calls to ED patients. Methods: A retrospective review of the ability to reach 4,741 patients called during a posttreatment patient satisfaction survey of visits to a suburban community hospital ED. Results: Only 54.9% of all patients called could be contacted after three or fewer phone calls. Of the 2,139 (45.1%) who could not be reached, there was no answer for 1,260 (58.9%), despite three telephone calls to a number currently in service. A significant minority (21.1%) had given nonworking numbers. Another 12.4% indicated that no one by the name of the patient lived at the number called, and 2.9% of the respondents alleged that the patient was deceased. Conclusions: Almost half of the patients who present to the ED and supply home telephone numbers give telephone numbers at which they cannot be reached in follow-up. Using telephone follow-up alone to reach patients seen in the ED may be an unreliable method of communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-273
Number of pages3
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


  • emergency department
  • follow-up
  • quality assurance
  • research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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