Patients seen in emergency departments who had a prior visit within the previous 72 h-National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 2002

Public Health. 2005 Oct;119(10):914-8. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2005.03.006.


Objective: This study characterized emergency department (ED) visits of patients who had received services in an ED within the previous 72 h.

Methods: ED data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey were analysed for: (a) infectious-disease-related visits; (b) infectious-disease-related return visits; and (c) return visits reported within the previous 72 h for all visits. Data were collected from a nationally representative sample of hospital EDs and were weighted to generate national estimates.

Results: In 2002, an estimated 20.5 million ED visits occurred in the USA for infectious diseases, for a visit rate of 73/1,000 people. A total of 3.5 million total return visits to EDs occurred within 72 h, and 67% were for follow-up visits. An estimated 625,280 return visits were for infectious diseases (18% of total ED return visits); 72% of these were for follow-up services. For total visits and infectious-disease-related visits, the majority of return visits were reported among those aged 25--44 years and among females.

Discussion: Approximately seven of every 10 return visits to EDs in 2002 were for follow-up services, and no difference existed in the percentage of return visits for infectious diseases compared with total visits. A health services implication exists for treating this percentage of patients in EDs when primary care practitioners should be the point of contact.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United States