The recurrent attender with a difference

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 24 June 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1554
  1. Richard Body, senior house officer
  1. accident and emergency department, Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport

    Often homeless, alcoholic, and with personality disorders, “recurrent attenders” at an emergency department present a considerable diagnostic challenge for doctors. Many seem to attend merely to get out of the cold, but they are well practised at giving histories, often causing inappropriate referrals to other specialties.

    Unsurprisingly, they may be regarded with cynicism by hospital staff and occasionally may be triaged to “outside the department” if the absence of serious pathology is strongly suspected. There they can wait, often in bitter conditions, for a cursory consultation by a doctor hellbent on discharging them so …

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