Telephone contact of patients visiting a large, municipal emergency department: can we rely on numbers given during routine registration

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Emergency Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; Aftercare; Bias (Epidemiology); Clinical Protocols; Emergency Service, Hospital; Female; Humans; Male; Medical Records; Middle Aged; *Patient Admission; Prospective Studies; Questionnaires; Registries; Reproducibility of Results; Sex Factors; Socioeconomic Factors; *Telephone


Emergency Medicine


We sought to determine whether we could successfully contact patients for follow-up using telephone numbers given during routine emergency department (ED) registration. Every fifth patient visiting our ED during the study period was eligible. Three calls were made to each number. Calls began 7 days after the ED visit. Of 1,136 patients, we successfully contacted 478 (42.1%). Of those patients unreachable across all three attempts, 183 (16.1%) had given wrong numbers, 133 (11.7%) had disconnected lines, and 156 (13.7%) had three consecutive "no answers." Females and patients with nonurgent complaints were significantly more likely to be contacted. Despite stringent calling protocols, we successfully contacted only 42% of our patients. Nearly 28% gave wrong or disconnected numbers. Placing two additional calls to those patients who were not home or did not answer initially nearly doubled the overall contact rate, although similar efforts for patients who initially gave wrong or disconnected numbers yielded no appreciable gains. Females and nonurgent patients were over-represented.

DOI of Published Version



J Emerg Med. 2000 May;18(4):409-15. DOI 10.1016/S0736-4679(00)00155-4

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of emergency medicine


At the time of publication, Edwin Boudreaux was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID