COPD Common Condition in Frequent Users of Emergency Department

sliding doors in the front of an emergency department
sliding doors in the front of an emergency department
Nearly 6% of older adults account for more than 20% of emergency department visits.

HealthDay News — More than 5 percent of seniors visit emergency departments more than six times in one year, according to a study published online Jan. 28 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Edward M. Castillo, Ph.D., from the University of California in San Diego, and colleagues used data from a statewide California database of 326 licensed, nonfederal hospitals to identify all geriatric patients (≥65 years) with an emergency department visit in 2014 (1,259,809 patients with 2,792,219 total visits). Frequent users (at least six visits in a one-year period) were identified.

The researchers found that overall, 5.7 percent of geriatric patients were identified as frequent users of the emergency department, accounting for 21.2 percent of all emergency department visits. 

Among frequent users, the most common conditions included diabetes without complications (25.8 percent), chronic pulmonary disease (21.5 percent), kidney disease (19.1 percent), congestive heart failure (16 percent), and peripheral vascular disease (15.1 percent). Frequent emergency department use was most associated with an injury-related visit (odds ratio, 3.8), primary diagnosis of pain (odds ratio, 5.5), and having a comorbidity index score ≥3 (odds ratio, 7.2).

“This study shows that there are opportunities for both cost savings and more targeted interventions to help improve outcomes for seniors in the emergency department, where they often experience the health care system,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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