Emergency visits reached record high in 2016, CDC data shows

Emergency department visits reached 145.6 million patients in 2016 — a record high — compared to more than 136.9 million visits the year prior, according to new CDC data.

The finding is from data for the most recent year available and does not include freestanding emergency departments or urgent care centers.

Six other findings:

1. CDC researchers found that 4.3 percent of emergency patients visited the emergency department with nonurgent medical symptoms in 2016, down from 5.5 percent in 2015.

2. Thirty-nine percent of patients who visited the emergency department in 2016 waited less than 15 minutes to see a provider, and more than 70 percent were seen in less than one hour.

3. Children and senior citizens visited the emergency department most in 2016, the data showed. Patients age 15 or younger represented 18.8 percent (27.4 million) of emergency visits that year, while patients age 65 or older represented 15.9 percent (23.1 million) of visits.

4. In 2016, patients most commonly went to the emergency department for stomach pain (12.5 million visits, 8.6 percent) and chest pain (7.5 million visits, 5.2 percent). Patients who went to the emergency department for injuries represented 42.2 million emergency visits (29 percent). 

5. Nearly 58 percent of emergency care in 2016 took place after traditional business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

6. Sixty-nine percent of hospital inpatients were processed through the emergency department in 2016.

Access the full data here.


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