Table 2Most common first-listed diagnoses seen in the emergency department, 2009

RankDiagnostic category*Encounters (n)Encounters (% of n)Transfer rate (%)
1Upper respiratory infections (other than tonsillitis and bronchitis)6,474,0775.00.1
2Sprains and strains6,000,2594.70.1
3Superficial injury, contusion5,854,2254.50.3
4Abdominal pain4,982,7883.91.2
5Nonspecific chest pain4,078,6813.23.1
6Spondylosis, intervertebral disc disorders, other back problems3,473,1632.70.4
7Skin and subcutaneous tissue infections3,215,7502.40.8
8Open wounds of extremities3,132,2652.40.7
9Other injuries and conditions due to external causes2,986,0512.31.4
10Headache, including migraine2,956,1242.30.4
11Urinary tract infections2,955,8852.30.8
12Open wounds of head, neck, and trunk2,514,3552.01.0
13Other lower respiratory disease**2,105,2681.62.3
14Viral infections2,065,7921.60.2
15Otitis media and related conditions2,050,6481.60.1
16Connective tissue disease other than systemic lupus erythematosus2,007,8831.60.0
18Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchiectasis1,970,7861.51.5
19Disorders of teeth and jaw1,902,8221.50.2
21Fever of unknown origin1,832,4151.41.7
22Fracture of upper limb1,813,2131.41.7
23Acute bronchitis1,689,8581.30.6
24Complications of pregnancy other than abortion or ectopic pregnancy1,686,4501.30.8
25Nausea and vomiting1,666,8841.30.9

Using AHRQ’s Clinical Classifications Software (CCS).


The vast majority of these cases involved nonspecific International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes for shortness of breath, respiratory abnormalities not elsewhere classified, cough, and painful respiration.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Center for Delivery, Organization, and Markets, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS), 2009

From: Emergency Department Transfers to Acute Care Facilities, 2009

Cover of Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Statistical Briefs
Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Statistical Briefs [Internet].

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