Occupational therapy in emergency departments: Australian practice
Background Some emergency departments (EDs) in the UK, North America and Australia have provided occupational therapy (OT) services for over 10 years; however, little is known about practice patterns as previous literature has focussed on single programmes or the generic contribution of allied health multidisciplinary teams to ED throughput and safe discharge. Aim To describe practice patterns of OT services in Australian EDs. Method Of 129 Australian public hospital EDs, 41 were identified to have offered OT services in the past 5 years (32%). Using snowball sampling an investigator designed survey was sent to 51 occupational therapists who were identified to have worked in these EDs in the past 5 years. Findings 30 subjects (58% response rate) from 21 sites participated. Mean age 30.4, 29 females, one male and an average of 9-year clinical experience. OT service was usually provided within multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary teams by full-time employed staff and patients were overwhelmingly Australian Triage Scale level 4 or 5 and were over 65 years. Few standardized assessment or outcome measures were used. The OT role was consistently focussed on functional assessment and provision of interventions such as equipment prescription, patient education and referral to community and support services to ensure safe discharge or inform inpatient admission decisions.