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J Emerg Med. 2019 Mar;56(3):344-351. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2018.12.025. Epub 2019 Jan 28.

Characteristics and Trends of Emergency Department Visits in the United States (2010-2014).

Author information

1
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio; Department of Health Service Administration, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio.
2
Department of Health Service Administration, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

It is important that policy makers, health administrators, and emergency physicians have up-to-date statistics on the most common diagnoses of patients seen in the emergency department (ED).

OBJECTIVES:

We sought to describe the changes that occurred in ED visits from 2010 through 2014 and to describe the frequency of different ED diagnoses.

METHODS:

This is a retrospective analysis of ED visit data from the National Emergency Department Sample from 2010 through 2014. Visits were stratified by age, sex, insurance status, disposition, diagnosis, and diagnostic category. We calculated the total annual ED visits and the ED visit rates by diagnoses and diagnostic categories.

RESULTS:

Between 2010 and 2014, the number of U.S. ED visits increased from 128.9 million to 137.8 million. The rate of ED Visits per 1000 persons increased from 416.92 (95% confidence interval [CI] 399.47-434.37) in 2010 to 432.51 (95% CI 411.51-453.61) in 2014 (p = 0.0136). ED visits grew twice as quickly (1.7%) as the overall population (0.7%). The most common reason for an ED visit was abdominal pain (11.75% [95% CI 11.61-11.89]). This was followed by mental health problems (4.45% [95% CI 4.19-4.72]).

CONCLUSION:

The number of ED visits in the United States continues to increase faster than the rate of population growth. Abdominal problems and mental health issues, including substance abuse, were the most common reasons for an ED visit in 2014.

KEYWORDS:

Medicaid; abdominal pain; emergency department; mental health

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