Emergency department usage in California is not among the top five states per capita, according to a study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. Per capita ED usage was highest in Washington, D.C.; West Virginia; and Mississippi, while Hawaii, South Dakota and Utah reported the lowest ED usage rates, the study found.
Researchers evaluated ED admissions data from 2001 from the SMG Marketing Group's Hospital Market Profiling Solution Database and the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey of Hospitals. Researchers also contacted hospitals that:
- Did not report ED data for 2003; or
- Reported substantial changes in ED patient volumes in 2003.
The study found that:
- 99% of hospitals maintain EDs;
- 68% of EDs treated at least one patient per hour;
- Such higher-volume EDs accounted for 94% of ED visits; and
- 72% of higher-volume EDs were located in urban areas.
The authors recommended that policymakers develop criteria to classify EDs, noting that such a classification system would help evaluate the level of services available in EDs and U.S. residents' access to some health care services (Sullivan et al., Annals of Emergency Medicine, December 2006). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.