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Portuguese health system is still too reliant on emergency care, finds review

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e379 (Published 13 January 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e379
  1. Tiago Villanueva
  1. 1Lisbon

The level of attendance at emergency departments in Portugal is about twice that of the United Kingdom and 50% more than in France, and about a quarter of patients attending don’t need immediate care, says a review of the country’s health system.

The report by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies says that despite the increased cost of emergency care “many patients prefer to go directly to emergency care services in hospitals or the private sector where the full range of diagnostic tests can be obtained in a few hours.” In contrast, the number of outpatient contacts is 4.5 per person per year, substantially lower than the European Union average (6.2).

The report shows that the number of doctors in Portugal (377 doctors per 100 000 population) is above the EU average (328 per 100 000 population), although the number …

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