ED death rates down nearly 50%

Mortality among adults in U.S. emergency departments was nearly cut in half between 1997 and 2011. The decline in deaths is likely due to a combination of factors, including enhanced palliative, pre-hospital and emergency care, according to a study published in the July issue of Health Affairs.

Researchers analyzed ED visit data from adults 18 years of age and older throughout the study period, totaling more than 1.3 billion ED visits across the country. They found the patients most likely to die in the ED were more likely to be older white males who have more severe triage acuity scores. The researchers also noted that EDs in rural areas and in the South had higher mortality rates.

In analyzing this data, the researchers found that ED mortality rates dropped 48 percent over the study period. While this could be because more patients are surviving until they are admitted as inpatients, the researchers noted there was no significant drop in inpatient mortality from 2005 to 2011. Instead, they believed the root cause of this drop to be multifactorial, due to advances in palliative and hospice care, pre-hospital resuscitation policy changes, improved quality for Medicaid and Medicare patients and improvements in emergency medicine.


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