ED Visits Up 23% Over 10 Years

A recent report by the CDC's National Center for Healthcare Statistics found emergency department visits increased 23 percent from 94.9 million visits in 1997 to 116.8 million visits in 2007.

The report, "National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2007 Emergency Department Summary," also found that patients under 12 months old were most likely of any age group to use the ED (88.5 visits per 100 infants).

For patients under age 15, fever, cough and vomiting were the leading reasons for an ED visit. Chest pain and abdominal pain were the leading reasons for patients age 15-64, and chest pain, shortness of breath and abdominal pain were the leading reasons for patients 65 and older.

Other findings include:

•    Nearly 65 percent of patients presented during non-business hours (weekends or outside 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays).
•    Two-thirds of patients spent less than 4 hours in the ED.
•    Private payors were the most prominent payor for ED cases. Private payors accounted for 39 percent of all ED cases. Medicaid and SCHIP (25.2 percent) and Medicare (17.2 percent) followed closely behind.
•    Roughly 12.5 percent of ED patients were admitted to the hospital;  2.1 percent were admitted to an observation unit; and 1.8 percent were admitted to another hospital.

Read the report on ED utilization (pdf).

Read other coverage on ED utilization:

- New Triage Method Reduces ED Waiting Times at St. Francis in Indianapolis

ED Best Practices Can Help Ease Transitions Under Healthcare Reform

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