Danes leave hospital without diagnosis

As many as 25% of acute care patients admitted to hospitals in Denmark eventually leave without a diagnosis, according to a study published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine.

More than a quarter million Danes are admitted to medical departments each year with severe symptoms such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, or fainting.

But the study from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital found that nearly one in four leave without explanation of the symptoms that led to acute hospitalization (European Journal of Internal Medicine, 2 July 2014).

The authors analyzed data from 264,265 patients (mean age 64 years) who were acutely admitted to Danish medical departments in 2010. Half suffered from chronic diseases. The average length of stay was two days.

People without serious illness don't necessarily need a diagnosis, but such high numbers of undiagnosed patients suggest that not everyone may be receiving adequate examination before being sent home, said clinical associate professor Dr. Christian Fynbo Christiansen in a statement accompanying the study's release.

As the population of elderly people increases, more will suffer from chronic diseases. The study data will be useful for future planning in the healthcare sector, especially in the largest hospitals that admit large numbers of patients in rapid order, the authors concluded.

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