U.S. Residents’ Doctor Visits Increase
The number of doctor visits made by U.S. residents increased 31% from 1994 to 2004, according to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics released on Friday, the AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The study was based on surveys of more than 400 hospitals and about 1,400 doctors' offices.
Federal health care facilities were not included in the study. Findings show that 1.1 billion doctor visits took place in 2004. The higher number of visits partly reflects an 11% rise in population in the last decade, but U.S. residents also are seeking care more often, according to NCHS (Stobbe, AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 6/24).
In 2004, about half of the visits were with primary care doctors, 18% were with medical specialists, 16% were with surgical specialists and 10% were in emergency departments, according to the study.
Findings also indicate that physicians spent the same amount of time with patients during office visits from 1994 to 2004, approximately 16 minutes. The wait to see a physician in an ED increased from 38 minutes in 1997 to 47 minutes in 2004.
High blood pressure was the most diagnosed condition, seen in 42 million visits, the survey finds. Diabetes diagnoses rose by 117%, and spinal disorder diagnoses rose by 94% (Washington Post, 6/24).