115,165 people left emergency departments without completing their treatment last year.
In 2022, almost 1.5 million patients went to emergency departments and the figures mean 7.8% left before they had been fully treated.
Tallaght University Hospital had the highest number of patients leaving early at 20%, followed by St James's Hospital in Dublin at 12.9%; Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda was third at 12.1%.
Professor Bill Tormey, a consultant at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, said poor service is to blame.
“I think it’s not surprising that many of them are there for greater than 10 hours, some for over 24 hours and people will get hugely frustrated by that,” he said.
“Those people who are able to walk and are ambulatory will be able to exit in that circumstance.
“So, it’s really not surprising, given the level of service, that 7.8% of people have left.
“It does not mean that they were there for trivial reasons.”
The HSE says emergency departments are for people with serious injuries or illnesses, but many others go there when they do not need to.
It says patients are treated by priority and, because of that, some patients with less serious needs may choose to get healthcare elsewhere.
Professor Tormey believes more out-of-hours GP services would ease pressure on emergency departments.
“It seems to me that demand is so great [with] 7.8% exiting A&E last year that it makes common-sense to put a GP practice outside the main gate of any of the level four hospitals,” he said.
Main image: Accident and Emergency sign. Picture by: Alamy.com