Association between early returns and frequent ED visits at a rural academic medical center

Am J Emerg Med. 2003 Jan;21(1):30-1. doi: 10.1053/ajem.2003.50017.


The objective of this study was to examine the influence of frequent emergency department (ED) use on early returns to the ED at a large rural academic medical center. An analysis was done of all 35,440 visits by 22,442 individuals to a large rural academic medical center ED during calendar year 2000. Of 35,440 ED visits, there were 1,992 (5.62%) return visits within 72 hours (early return). Frequent ED visits (visits made by individuals making 4 or more visits per year) was a predictor of early return visits (odds ratio [OR] 3.21, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.93-3.52; Wald chi(2), P <.0001). Of 22,442 individuals who came to the ED during the study period, 1,601 (7.13%) returned within 72 hours. Frequency of ED use by a particular individual (4 or more visits per year) was also a predictor of early return for that individual (OR 14.55, 95% CI 12.84-16.48; Wald chi(2), P <.000001). The high rate of early returns to this rural academic ED was significantly associated with frequent visits (4 or more times per year) to the ED by particular individual.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Misuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Quality of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retreatment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors
  • Utilization Review / statistics & numerical data*