Reports From the Field: Report: Most ED visits not for emergencies

The majority of visits to emergency departments (ED) in U.S. hospitals are for treatment of nonemergency cases that could be treated elsewhere, according to an analysis by Solucient, a health care information provider based in Evanston, IL.

Of 106 million annual visits to the ED, 58% were by patients who could have been seen in settings such as freestanding urgent care facilities, physician offices, or fast-track units within an ED, the analysis shows.

The findings are based on claims analysis from a variety of payers and sources nationwide.

The analysis found that children younger than 17 are more likely than any other age group to use the ED for nonemergency care. About 75% of all pediatric ED patients could have been seen in less-acute settings.

The use of an ED for nonemergencies declines as patients age. For example, only 62% of young adult patients, 46% of older adults, and 35% of senior patients used the ED for nonemergency care. For more information, see www.solucient.com.