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ER Use Outstrips Population Growth

By John Commins  
   October 24, 2017

Data show that the rate of mental health/substance abuse-related ED visits increased 44% from 2006 to 2014, with a 414% increase in suicidal ideation visits. Alcohol-related disorders were the most frequent mental health/substance abuse-related ED visits.

The number of emergency department visits covered by Medicaid increased by 66% while the number covered by Medicare rose by 29% from 2006-2014, according to a statistical brief from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

In that same span, ED visits covered by private insurance decreased by 10%, AHRQ said.

In addition, the AHRQ data found that:

  • There were 137.8 million emergency department visits in 2014, with a rate of 432 per 1,000 population.
     
  • The number of ED visits increased 14.8% from 2006 to 2014, during which time the U.S. population grew 6.9%.
     
  • The rate of ED visits for medical conditions increased 11.7% from 2006 to 2014. Diagnoses involving abdominal pain were the most frequent medical diagnoses for ED visits in 2014 (6 million visits).
     
  • The rate of injury-related ED visits decreased 12.9% from 2006 to 2014. Among injury-related ED visits, sprains and strains were the most frequent first-listed diagnoses in 2014 (5.8 million visits).
     
  • The rate of mental health/substance abuse-related ED visits increased 44% from 2006 to 2014, with suicidal ideation growing the most (414% increase in number of visits). Among mental health/substance abuse-related ED visits, alcohol-related disorders were the most frequent diagnoses in 2014 (1.5 million visits).

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.


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