Why do patients choose to attend a private emergency department?

Document Type

Journal Article


Blackwell Publishing


School of Nursing and Midwifery




Originally published as: Shearer, F.M., Bailey, P.M., Hicks, B.L., et al. (2015). Why do patients choose to attend a private emergency department?. In EMA - Emergency Medicine Australasia, 27(1), 62-65. Available here.


Objective: Understanding the reasons patients decide to attend a particular acute care service, and their expectations of that service, is important in providing optimal patient care. The present study aimed to determine factors influencing patient decisions to attend a private Australian ED, an issue that has not been previously addressed in the literature. Methods: Semi-structured face-to-face interviews with ED patients, purposively sampled to broadly reflect the departmental caseload and casemix. The two primary questions asked were: 'Why did you choose to come to this emergency department?' and 'What are your general expectations of this emergency department visit?'. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and then analysed using manifest and then latent content analysis techniques. Results: All patients approached (n=30) agreed to interview. Four key themes were identified: prior experience of the hospital, convenient location of the hospital, anticipated high-quality care and anticipated short wait times. Conclusions: Patients chose to use the private ED because of prior experience, proximity, and an expectation they would be seen promptly and be provided with competent care.