Uses of first line emergency services in Cuba
De Vos, Pol
Van der Stuyft, Patrick
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De Vos, P., Vanlerberghe, V., Rodríguez, A., García, R., Bonet, M. & Van der Stuyft, P. (2007) Uses of first line emergency services in Cuba. Health Policy, 85(1), pp. 94-104.
Objectives To rationalise the use of hospital emergency units, the Cuban health system developed from 1996 onwards an extra muros first line emergency system (FLES). We analyse the use of the FLES and its determinants, in order to develop proposals to channel inappropriate users to their family doctor.Methods In the FLES of an urban (Cerro) and a rural (Baracoa) municipality we collected, from July 1999 to June 2001, data on the moment of consultation, age and sex of the patient, referral status, motive of consultation, emergency classification, diagnosis and medical conduct. A variable “inappropriate use” was constructed. We used multivariate logistic regression to quantify the strength of the associations between patient characteristics, the night-time use, medical procedures, referral, and inappropriate use of the FLES.Results Over the 2 years observation period, 24 879 and 59 795 patient contacts were registered with the principal emergency policlinic in Baracoa and Cerro, respectively. In both municipalities the overall “inappropriate” use was almost 60%. There was no correlation with age and gender but inappropriate use was 50% more frequent during the day. Referred patients in both localities were up to 12 times more frequently hospitalized.Conclusion Cuba's FLES attract patients that would be better attended by their family doctor. To strengthen his central position in the health system, one should strengthen the family doctor's technical platform, increase his permanence at the cabinet, and improve communication with the community on the rationale of the family doctor—FLES set up.
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