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December 2001

Hospitals Without Eye Surgery: Are Minimum Standards of Care Being Met for Patients With Ocular Injury?

Arch Ophthalmol. 2001;119(12):1851-1853. doi:10.1001/archopht.119.12.1851

THERE IS limited information on the amount and type of eye care provided in emergency departments (EDs) in North America and even less on the quality of that care.1-4 Patients coming to EDs with ocular complaints make up a small portion of all ED care, and nearly half of all eye-related visits are due to ocular or periocular injury.1 Severe ocular trauma that requires hospitalization is uncommon, comprising only 3 percent of all ED visits for ocular injury.1 Patients in this very small group, however, are most likely to sustain permanent vision loss.3,5 From a public health perspective, the greatest opportunity to reduce the risk of permanent vision loss from eye injuries once they have occurred is to target patients at highest risk and ensure that they receive at the least a minimum standard of care. The prompt triage and appropriate surgical management of patients with severe ocular injury should be given priority when monitoring ED performance.6 For a variety of reasons, however, the quality of emergency eye care can easily be neglected.

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