Patients who left without being seen (LWBS) by an emergency department doctor
Percentage of patients who chose to leave the emergency department without being seen by an emergency department doctor.
What do you see?
- Are there any trends over time at the hospital where you work or would be most likely to visit?
- Are there differences in the number of patients leaving between hospitals of the same type (e.g., Large Urban)?
Whether you’re a patient, provider, or health system administrator, thinking about why these differences might exist can start conversations and lead to solutions for improved quality of healthcare.
*Data courtesy of Alberta Health Services
Understanding “patients who left without being seen (LWBS) by an emergency department doctor”
This chart illustrates the percentage of patients who had an initial assessment by a nurse in the triage area, but for unknown reasons, chose to leave the emergency department before an assessment by a doctor and treatment could occur. The percentage of patients who leave without being seen is very important for hospitals to monitor because patients whose health concerns are not addressed can be at a safety risk.
There may also be some patients who leave for the right reasons. For example, a patient who, while in the waiting room, successfully booked an appointment with an after-hours clinic for an ear ache.
How could the percentage of patients who leave the emergency department without being seen help us to understand and improve the quality of emergency department care?
- A higher percentage of patients who left without being seen is often a good indication of crowding in the emergency department. Comparing the information in this chart to emergency department patient volumes can be helpful to seeing if a high percentage of patients who left without being seen might be connected to high patient volumes for the same time period. Similarly, a higher percentage of patients who left without being seen might reflect patients’ dissatisfaction with the wait to see an emergency doctor.
- The percentage of patients who leave the emergency department without being seen may also relate to patients’ satisfaction with the initial communication they receive in the emergency department.
Results from May and June 2016 are not reported for the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre due to the forest fire that affected Fort McMurray and forced the closure of the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.
The Health Quality Council of Alberta uses the Alberta Quality Matrix for Health as a way of organizing information and thinking around the complexity of the healthcare system. This measure can be used as input to assess the emergency department’s performance in these dimensions of quality:
Dimensions of Quality