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Vital Health Stat 13. 1998 May;(137):1-23.

Ambulatory health care visits by children: principal diagnosis and place of visit.



This report presents national estimates of ambulatory health care use by children under 15 years of age according to principal diagnosis, place of visit (physician office, hospital outpatient department, and hospital emergency department), and patient characteristics (age, sex, and race).


Data were from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Data were from 1993-95.


In 1993-95 children under 15 years of age made 165.3 million visits per year (289 visits per 100 children). Visit rates were highest among infants and varied inversely with age. Visit rates were 43 percent higher among white children than black children. Three-quarters of ambulatory visits occurred in physician offices, 8 percent in hospital outpatient departments, and 14 percent in hospital emergency departments. Visits by white children were more likely to occur in physician offices than visits by black children (81 percent and 54 percent). Conversely, visits by black children were more likely to occur in hospital outpatient departments (19 percent and 7 percent) and hospital emergency departments (28 percent and 12 percent) than visits by white children. The following principal diagnoses accounted for almost 40 percent of visits: well-child visit, 15 percent; middle ear infection, 12 percent; and injury, 10 percent. Rates for well-child visits were almost 80 percent higher among white infants than black infants. Continued monitoring of these differences in use of ambulatory care among children are needed, particularly in view of the possible impact of changes in the health care system on these differences.

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