Study: ED Utilization Measures Should be Standardized

Measures of emergency department utilization should be standardized, because reporting ED encounters compared with ED patients provides different views of utilization, according to a study in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Researchers studied ED data available at one academic hospital and two community hospitals. The two community hospitals had data for 2000 to 2007, and the academic hospital had data for 2000 to 2009.

The researchers found the number of annual encounters and patients was relatively stable over time for the academic ED, at approximately 89,000 and 49,000, respectively. Patients were new in 36.1 percent of encounters of year two, 25.3 percent of year five encounters and 22.4 percent of year 10 encounters, according to the study.

The researchers concluded EDs' population is relatively stable and new patients account for only a minority of encounters. In addition, measures of utilization had different results. "Encounters and patients are not equivalent units of analysis, and policymakers and researchers should determine which is most appropriate for their decisionmaking," the authors wrote.

More Articles on ED Utilization:

Study: Practice Intensity Drives Increased ED Crowding
Study: ED Length of Stay Associated With Number of Admissions, Discharges

Study: Consumer-Driven Health Plans Linked to Reduced Utilization, Costs

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