Background Dermatological patients do visit the emergency department (ED) while most skin problems are controllable in the outpatient clinic. However, there is paucity of data on skin conditions presenting in ED.
Objective The aim of this study was to provide the demographic and clinical data on dermatological problems in the ED in a secondary hospital in Korea.
Methods A retrospective study was conducted based on dermatological international classification of diseases (ICD) rendered in the emergency department of Seoul National University Boramae Hospital, Seoul, Korea, during an 8-year period from 2003 to 2010. Most skin conditions were diagnosed by emergency medicine specialist, not dermatologist.
Results A total of 8332 patients with skin problem were seen corresponding to 3.2% of total ED visits. The number of patients had increased 277% from 621 visits in 2003 to 1719 visits in 2010 with a peak incidence in the summer season annually. Urticaria and angioedema group was most common (68.1%), followed by infections group and nonspecific and descriptive diagnosis group. The mean length of stay was distributed preponderantly around one hour. In 6.2% cases, the patient was admitted, most frequently for infections.
Conclusion During the eight-year period, dermatological ED patients increased at a steeper rate than total ED patients. However, the non-urgent dermatologic ED patients have increased with respect to admission rate, death rate, length of stay and visiting-admitting discordance. Health policy makers could utilize these basic data to amend the current health delivery system to reduce unnecessary expenditure of medical resources.