Qualitative evaluation of a mandatory provincial programme auditing emergency department return visits

CAN-LC-Emergency department return visits

Ontario (ED)

Objective: The objective of this qualitative study was to evaluate the perceived impact and value of the Return Visit Quality Programme (RVQP), a mandatory province-wide emergency department audit programme.


Design: We employed an interpretive descriptive qualitative approach with maximum variation sampling to ensure diverse representation across several geographical and institutional factors. RVQP programme leads were invited to participate in semistructured interviews and snowball sampling was used to reach non-lead physicians to capture the perspectives of those working within the programme.


Setting: In Ontario’s RVQP, participating emergency departments must audit their return visits resulting in admission to identify issues that can be addressed through quality improvement initiatives.


Participants: Between June and August 2018, we interviewed 32 participants (local programme leads and non-lead physicians) from 23 out of the 86 participating centres.


Results: Participants’ perceived impact and value of the programme was associated with the existence (or absence) and nature of the local quality improvement culture, the implementation approach of the programme within their emergency departments, and key aspects of the programme pertaining to medicolegal concerns and resource availability.


Conclusions: This study of an innovative, large-scale programme aimed at promoting continuous quality improvement in emergency departments showed that while its perceived impact has been meaningful, there are key structural and operational elements that support and hinder this aim. Healthcare leaders should consider these findings when looking to implement large-scale audit or quality improvement programmes.


Authors: Lucas B. Chartier, Hannaa Jalali, M. Banca Seaton, Howard Ovens, Bjug Borgundvaag, Shelley L. McLeod, Katie N. Dainty, Olivia Ostrow

Lucas B. Chartier - lucas.chartier@uhn.ca

Project complete