Background Although most trauma centers have a regularly scheduled trauma clinic, research demonstrates that trauma patients do not consistently attend follow-up appointments and often use the emergency department (ED) for outpatient care. Methods A retrospective review of outpatient follow-up of adult patients admitted to the trauma service (January 2014-December 2014) at an urban level I trauma center was conducted (n = 2134). Results A total of 219 patients (10%) were evaluated in trauma clinic after discharge from the hospital. Twenty-one percent of patients seen in trauma clinic visited the ED within 30 d compared with 12% of those not seen in clinic (P < 0.001). A total of 104 patients were readmitted within 30 d of discharge; no difference existed in the rate of hospital readmission between patients seen in clinic and those not seen in clinic (P = 0.25). Stepwise logistic regression showed that clinic follow-up was not a significant predictor of decreased ED utilization (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.16 [95% confidence interval 0.78-1.72], P = 0.461) and also showed that while ED use was a significant predictor of readmission (adjusted OR 216 [93-500], P < 0.001), clinic visits were not (adjusted OR 0.74 [0.33-1.69], P = 0.48). Conclusions Outpatient follow-up in the trauma clinic does not decrease ED utilization or hospital readmissions indicating that interventions aimed at improving access to a conventional outpatient clinic will not impact ED utilization rates. Further study is necessary to determine the best system for providing clinically appropriate and cost-effective outpatient follow-up for trauma patients.
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