SAN DIEGO – Emergency care–sensitive conditions – those for which timely access to high-quality emergency care impact morbidity and mortality—account for 14% of all ED visits, results from a large analysis of national data showed.
In, an eight-member expert panel identified 51 condition groups as emergency care–sensitive conditions (ECSCs), including asthma, cardiac arrest, cerebral infarction, and pneumonia. The purpose of the current study, published in and presented by , at the annual meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians, was to provide the first national estimates of acute care utilization and the demographic characteristics of adults experiencing ECSCs, compare ECSC and non-ECSC ED visits, and assess patient- and hospital-level characteristics predictive of an ECSC-related ED visit.
Using the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample data set, Dr. Vashi, a physician investigator at the Center for Innovation to Implementation at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, and her colleagues retrospectively evaluated all ED visits for patients aged 18 years and older from 2009 to 2014. The researchers used summary statistics to compare population characteristics across groups and multivariable logistic regression models to assess the odds of an ECSC-related ED visit with patient- and hospital-level characteristics.
Of the 622,725,542 estimated ED visits evaluated during the study period, 86,577,041 (14%) were ECSCs. Among these ECSC visits, 58% of patients were admitted for an average length of 3.2 days and an average charge of $2,240. The most frequent ECSC-related visits were for pneumonia (9%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (9%), asthma (7%), heart failure (7%), and sepsis (5%), but varied by age group.
Dr. Vashi and her colleagues found that ECSCs were more common among older adults, males, those who reside in low-income areas, those who reside in the South, and among metropolitan-based hospitals and nontrauma center hospitals. ECSCs also accounted for about 45% of all inpatient admissions.
Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that the odds of having an ECSC-related visit was highest among patients aged 65 years and older (odds ratio, 3.84), those on Medicare (OR, 1.37), those who resided in rural counties (OR, 1.21), and those who reside in the Western portion of the United States (OR, 1.11). Significant hospital-related factors related to ECSC visits included trauma centers (OR, 1.09), nonteaching hospitals (OR, 1.04), and EDs located in the wealthiest counties (OR, 1.02).
The researchers also found that 40% of patients who made ECSC-related ED visits were treated and discharged back to the community. “There is evidence of regional variability, suggesting the need for future research,” said Dr. Vashi, who also holds a faculty position in the department of emergency medicine at Stanford (Calif.) University. “We found no consistent relationship between insurance, income, and ED use for ECSC-related conditions. This suggests that ECSCs are not significantly influenced by socioeconomic factor and can serve as a reliable marker for acuity.”
The next steps in this research area, she added, are to create condition-specific measures related to morbidity, mortality, and posthospital events, as well as to analyze regional and hospital variations including correlation across conditions, and to compare performance across conditions and hospitals.
Dr. Vashi reported having no financial disclosures.
Source: Vashi A et al. Ann Emerg Med. 2018 Oct;72;4:S38. .