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Am J Emerg Med. 2003 Nov;21(7):540-4.

Hospital admissions associated with nontraumatic dental emergencies in a Medicaid population.

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  • 1Department of Oral Health Care Delivery, University of Maryland Dental School, 666 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA. LAC001@dental.umaryland.edu


Few studies have examined visits to hospital EDs and subsequent admission for the treatment of nontraumatic dental emergencies. The present study of Medicaid-eligible adults was conducted to gain a better understanding of the magnitude of this problem. Data tapes describing adult Medicaid patients' hospital ED and admission claims were obtained from the Maryland Medicaid Management Information System. The database contained information on all claims made to Maryland Medicaid during the period February 16, 1991, to February 15, 1995. There was a total of 4326 dental-related ED claims, which resulted in 85 hospital admissions. Thus, approximately 2% of dental-related ED visits during the 4-year study period resulted in a hospital admission. The mean total cost for claims associated with hospital admissions was $5793 US dollars, whereas the minimum cost was $949 and the maximum was $43,524 US dollars. Although the frequency of hospital admissions associated with nontraumatic dental emergencies is not great, a hospital admission is among the most extreme consequences of failing to prevent or treat dental problems. Although some hospital admissions related to dental problems could be unavoidable, further studies are needed to better understand mechanisms for reducing the use of EDs for care best provided in community-based dental offices.

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