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Objectives: Emergencies can occur at any time and be life-threatening or cause permanent damage. Accordingly, the management of emergency cases is an integral part of primary healthcare (PHC). This study aimed to estimate the proportion and type of emergency cases presenting to PHC centres in Muscat, Oman. Methods: This retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted from March to August 2016 at five PHC centres in Muscat Governorate. A total of 800 emergency cases (i.e. those labelled in the health information system as accident and emergency) presenting during this period and involving Omani patients aged ≥5 years were randomly selected for analysis, comprising every second case based on arrival to the registration desk. Electronic medical records were reviewed to collect data regarding demographic features, presenting complaints, time and season of presentation, management provided and, if referred to tertiary care, method of transportation. Results: The proportion of emergency cases was <2.5% (range: 1–2.5%). The most common type of emergency was musculoskeletal/trauma (34.3%), followed by gastroenterological (15.1%) and genitourinary (10%). Most patients were either 21–39 or 5–12 years old (35% and 21.6%, respectively). The majority (59.8%) were treated directly at the health centre, while 40.3% were referred to tertiary care. At referral, only 12.1% were transported by ambulance, with the rest leaving via private transport. Conclusion: Musculoskeletal/trauma was the most common type of emergency seen at selected PHC centres in Muscat. Further research is needed to determine whether PHC centres have the capability and resources necessary to appropriately manage emergency cases.
Keywords: Emergencies; Primary Healthcare; Public Health; Emergency Medicine; Oman.
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