Background: Rare diseases are serious and chronic disease that affect no more than 1 person in 2000. The patients suffering from RD may come to emergency department for life-threatening symptoms, such as acute aortic dissection, intracranial hemorrhage, and severe respiratory distress. Diagnostic delay of rare disease patients is common and often caused by low rare disease awareness among physicians. The main aim of this study was to investigate the Chinese emergency physicians’ basic knowledge, information access and educational needs regarding rare diseases. An online questionnaire was completed by Chinese emergency physicians during January and March 2021.
Methods and Results: A total of 539 emergency physicians responded to the questionnaire-based study, including 200 females and 339 males. More than half of respondents were from Tertiary A hospital and had engaged in medical clinical work more than 10 years. Only 4.27% of respondents correctly estimated the prevalence of rare diseases. A few respondents knew the exact number of RD in the first official list of rare diseases in 2018. 98.5% of respondents rated their knowledge about rare diseases as rare or insufficient. Most of emergency physicians preferred to getting information by search engine instead of specialized websites of rare diseases. Lack of practice guidelines or consensus and were considered as the most important reason for diagnostic delay of RD. Practice guidelines or consensus and professional websites on rare diseases were urgently needed for emergency physicians.
Conclusion: The investigation shows poor knowledge of emergency physicians regarding rare diseases. Practice guidelines and professional websites on rare diseases were the prominently urgent needs for emergency physicians. Specialized RD courses should also be added in medical education.