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Study cites spike in rural ED visits

Rural emergency departments experienced a rapid increase in use between 2005 and 2016, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of ED visit data gathered from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. They assessed ED visits, both at rural and urban facilities, from January 2005 to December 2016.

Over the study period, rural ED visit estimates increased from 16.7 million to 28.4 million, and urban ED visits increased from 98.6 million to 117.2 million. Rural ED visits increased by more than 50 percent, from 36.5 to 64.5 visits per 100 persons, while urban ED visits increased from 40.2 to 42.8 visits per 100 persons. By 2016, nearly one-fifth of all ED visits occurred in the rural setting.

Rural ED visits increased for non-Hispanic white patients, Medicaid beneficiaries, patients ages 18 to 64 years and patients without insurance.

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