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ED visits jump 23% in last 10 years

From 1997 to 2007, There were nearly 117 million ED visits in the U.S. in 2007, an increase of 23%, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS)--a federal National Health Statistics Reports review.  The report is located here (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr007.pdf).

According to the report—about 66% of ED visits required fewer than four hours of waiting, with 4.5% of patients needing to be seen immediately. Patients needing to be seen within 15 to 60 minutes comprised 38.5% of ED patients and 21% needed to be seen within one to two hours. Nearly two-thirds of ED visits occurred during non-business hours—between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. Monday through Friday and on weekends.

The report also found that:

  • Private insurance was used in 39% of all ED visits, compared with 25.2% paid through Medicaid or SCHIP and 17.2% through Medicare;
  • Uninsured patients represented 15.3% percent of visits, with patients either paying out-of-pocket for services or through charity care;

(Source: Niska R, Bhuiya F, and Xu J. National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2007 Emergency Department Summary. National health statistics reports; no 26. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2010.)