Research has extensively documented that a small number of Emergency Department (ED) patients make disproportionate use of emergency services (Okin et al., 2000). The term “Frequent Users” is used to describe patients who utilize ED services more than four times per year (Byrne et al., 2003). Frequent Users are often times patients with chronic medical, mental health, alcohol and drug problems, as well as other psychosocial issues (Fulde & Duffy, 2006). Homeless people also appear to have significantly higher ED rates than the general population (Pope et al., 2000). Immanuel St. Joseph’s-Mayo Health System (ISJ) ED appears to have many patients that may be categorized as a frequent user—in fact 442 patients in 2008 met this criteria. These 442 patients (2.4% of the total number of patients seen) accounted for approximately 11.8% of the total number of visits in 2008.

Research Question: How can ISJ effectively identify frequent users of the ED? What programs/strategies can be implemented to assist these patients in receiving more effective care?


Annelies Hagemeister

Date of Degree




Document Type

Other Capstone Project


Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Social and Behavioral Sciences

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