Trends in Alcohol-Related Emergency Department Visits in the United States: Results from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, 2006 to 2014

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2018 Feb;42(2):352-359. doi: 10.1111/acer.13559. Epub 2018 Jan 2.


Background: Acute alcohol consumption and chronic alcohol consumption increase the burden placed on emergency departments (EDs) by contributing to injury and disease. Whether the prevalence of alcohol-related ED visits in the United States has changed in recent years is unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine trends in ED visits involving acute and chronic alcohol consumption in the United States by age and sex between 2006 and 2014.

Methods: Data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS), the largest all-payer ED database in the United States involving 945 hospitals in 33 states and Washington, DC, were analyzed to assess changes in prevalence and rates of ED visits involving acute and chronic alcohol consumption by age and sex over time among persons aged ≥12 between 2006 and 2014.

Results: Between 2006 and 2014, the number of ED visits involving alcohol consumption increased 61.6%, from 3,080,214 to 4,976,136. The rate increased 47% from 1,223 to 1,802 per 100,000 population and the total cost of such visits increased 272% from $4.1 billion to $15.3 billion. The number of acute alcohol-related ED visits increased 51.5% from 1,801,006 to 2,728,313 and the rate increased 40% from 720.9 to 1,009.6 per 100,000 population. The number chronic alcohol-related visits increased 75.7% from 1,279,208 to 2,247,823 and the rate increased 57.9% from 502.2 to 792.9 per 100,000. The annual percentage change in rates of all alcohol-related ED visits was larger for females than for males (5.3% vs. 4.0%). Other drug involvement increased the likelihood of admission for inpatient treatment.

Conclusions: Alcohol consumption contributed to an increasing number of ED visits in the United States between 2006 and 2014, especially among females. Increased utilization of evidence-based interventions is needed.

Keywords: Alcohol; Emergency Department; Injury; Overdose; Trend.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Databases, Factual
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / economics
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / trends*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult