News Brief: Study says ED visits usually nonemergent

The majority of visits to hospital emergency departments (EDs) in the United States aren’t for emergencies, according to a recent study by Solucient, a health care information company with more than a million commercial and Medicare ED claims.

Solucient found that 58% of the 106 million annual visits to EDs, or nearly 62 million cases, are by patients who could have been treated in less-acute care settings. Children younger than age 17 were more likely than any other age group to use the ED for nonemergency care. Roughly 75% of all pediatric ED patients could have been seen in a setting such as a fast-track unit or urgent care facility.

The study found that nonemergent use of EDs declined steadily as patients’ ages increased, with 62% of young adult patients, 46% of older adults, and 35% of senior patients using EDs for nonemergent services.