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Report: 1 in 5 adults visits the ED each year


In 2011, 20% of U.S. adults reported at least one visit to an ED in the past year, and 7% reported two or more visits, according to “Health, United States, 2012,” the government’s annual comprehensive report on Americans’ health.

The report includes a compilation of health data from state and federal health agencies and the private sector, and features a special section on emergency care. Among the data:

• During the decade spanning 2001 to 2011, the proportion of people with at least one ED visit in the past year was stable at 20% to 22%, and the proportion of people reporting two or more visits was stable at 7% to 8%.

• During 2001-11, both children younger than 18 and adults ages 18 to 64 with Medicaid coverage were more likely than uninsured Americans and those with private insurance coverage to have at least one ED visit in the past year.

• In 2009-10, cold symptoms were the most common reason for ED visits by children (27%), and injuries were the most common reason for visits by adults (14%).

• Between 2000 and 2010, 35% of ED visits included an x-ray, while the use of advanced imaging scans (CT or MRI) increased from 5% to 17% of visits.

• In 2009-10, 81% of ED visits were discharged for follow-up care as needed, 16% ended with the patient being admitted to the hospital, 2% ended with the patient leaving without completing the visit and less than 1% ended in the patient’s death.

• In 2009-10, 59% of ED visits (excluding hospital admissions) included at least one drug prescribed at discharge.

Other highlights from the report, not related to ED visits, include:

• Between 2010 and 2011, the proportion of adults ages 19 to 25 who were uninsured decreased from 34% to 28%.

• Expenditures for hospital care accounted for 31% of all national healthcare expenditures in 2010. Physician and clinical services accounted for 20% of the total, followed by prescription drugs (10%) and nursing care facilities and continuing care retirement communities (6%).

• In 2011, 48% of adults ages 18 and over did not meet the 2008 federal physical activity guidelines.

Access the full report and a special abridged edition (“Health, United States, 2012: In Brief”):


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