Admission rates from emergency departments vary widely

Emergency Care

A new study found a greater than 2.5-fold variation in the hospital admission rate from the emergency department (ED) in a sample of hospitals across 28 U.S. States. This indicates wide variation in a costly, everyday decision that will require more study, particularly in the context of hospital admissions being a major contributor to rising U.S. health care costs, according to the study authors. The researchers found that for-profit hospitals, trauma centers, and hospitals with higher proportions of Medicare and uninsured patients had higher hospital admission rates from the ED. Local practice patterns and availability of primary care doctors were also important factors. Lower local numbers of primary care doctors were associated with higher admission rates, and there were significant "local practice" effects, which may reflect that admission decisions may have to do with local care standards.

For more details, see "Variation in Emergency Department Admission Rates Across the United States" by Jesse M. Pines M.D., Ryan L. Mutter Ph.D., and Mark S. Zochi M.P.H. in the January 6 online issue of Medical Care Research and Review.

Page last reviewed March 2013
Internet Citation: Admission rates from emergency departments vary widely: Emergency Care. March 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/13mar/0313RA14.html