Emergency Department Visits Increase as Physician Office Visits Decrease

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show an increase in emergency department visits and in the percentage of emergency patients who were uninsured from 2008 to 2009, according to an American Medical News report.

ED visits increased nearly 10 percent from 2008 to 2009, marking the largest single-year increase on record. In addition, 19 percent of ED visits in 2009 were uninsured patients compared with 15.4 percent in 2008. 

The American College of Emergency Physicians suggested the increase in ED visits may be caused in part by a lack of access to and use of primary care. Physician office visits decreased from 2008 to 2009, based on data from the Kaiser Family Foundation and other sources, the report said. Other possible causes include an increase in the number of uninsured patients and patient preference for "immediate answers" that come from emergency care providers, according to the report.

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