Author(s): Ward ST, Mithen RJ, Mohamed MS, Mufti GR
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Abstract OBJECTIVES: To identify any seasonal variation in the pattern of referrals to the Surgical Assessment Unit (SAU). METHODS: Admission data to the SAU were collected prospectively during two audit periods of 13 weeks each (winter 2004/2005 and summer 2005). The data were analysed comparing numbers of admissions over the two audit periods and variations in the presenting complaint. RESULTS: There were a significantly greater number of referrals to the SAU in the summer compared with winter (999 vs. 849, p = 0.026). Whilst there were no significant differences in the sex distribution of patients presenting with general surgical symptoms, a significantly greater proportion of male patients presented with urological symptoms. Additionally, a significantly greater proportion of patients presented in the summer with scrotal/testicular symptoms compared with the winter (13.9\% vs. 8.5\%, p = 0.02). There was no significant difference between the two periods in terms of other diagnoses. In both study periods, the SAU was busy during weekdays compared with weekends. Whilst most patients arrived in the SAU between 9 am and midnight a smaller but not insignificant number arrived outside of these hours. CONCLUSIONS: Summer compared with winter was a busy period for the SAU. This may be important in managing emergency surgical admissions. A significantly greater proportion of patients presented with scrotal/testicular symptoms during the summer, the reasons for which are unclear. The SAU diverts workload away from busy Accident & Emergency departments.
This article was published in Int J Clin Pract
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics