Max Rady College of Medicine

Term: Presenting Complaint Categories

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Glossary Definition

Last Updated: 2016-01-21


Each emergency department (ED) visit record lists the main reason the patient went to the ED; these are known as presenting complaints. Presenting complaints differ from diagnoses in that the patient may initially present with vague symptoms such as chest pain or swelling, and the clinician later determines the formal diagnosis (e.g., acute myocardial infarction, anaphylactic shock) after examination of the patient. This examination might include laboratory tests or diagnostic interventions. The clinician's diagnosis is not listed on the ED visit record.

In Lix et al. (2016), presenting complaints were grouped based on anatomical classification and severity of complaint. Note that for EDIS data, the complaint category was used to categorize ED visits, except when the category was "ETriage" or "Unknown". In this latter case, the chief complaint, which is more specific, was used. For a list of complaints and the corresponding categories used in this research, please see the Presenting Complaint table presented in this deliverable.

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  • Lix L, Smith M, Pitz M, Ahmed R, Quon H, Griffith J, Turner D, Hong S, Prior H, Banerjee A, Koseva I, Kulbaba C. Cancer Data Linkage in Manitoba: Expanding the Infrastructure for Research. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, 2016. [Report] [Summary] (View)

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