May 30, 2013 12:00 PM by Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Every year, one in five Americans makes at least one trip to the emergency room, new research shows.
The report, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also revealed that children and adults with Medicaid coverage were more likely than uninsured Americans and those with private insurance to make at least one visit to the ER.
One expert said the trend is "consistent" with what he's seen in his hospital's emergency department.
"I believe the increased utilization is in part due to the aging population coupled with increasing medical complexity associated with this population," said Dr. John D'Angelo, senior vice president of emergency services at North Shore - LIJ Health System in Great Neck, NY.
"In addition, emergency departments remain the primary access point for medical care for the uninsured as well as those seeking medical attention after hours and weekends," said D'Angelo, who was not connected to the new study.
Between 2009 and 2010, most adults were in the ER due to injuries (14 percent). Meanwhile, cold symptoms sent most children to the ER during that timeframe (27 percent), the authors noted in a CDC news release.
Also during those two years, about four out of five ER patients (81 percent) were discharged with instructions to receive follow-up care as needed. In another 16 percent of cases, the patient was admitted to the hospital. The researchers noted that in 2 percent of cases, the patient left the ER without being treated and less than 1 percent ended in the patient's death.
In addition, 59 percent of patients in the ER were discharged with at least one drug prescription, according to the CDC's annual, comprehensive report on American's health.
During the decade between 2000 and 2010, 35 percent of emergency room visits required an X-ray. The researchers noted that use of advanced imaging scans, such as CT and MRI, jumped from 5 percent to 17 percent of visits over that time period.
Interestingly, the percentage of uninsured young adult patients in the ER dropped between 2010 and 2011, going from 34 percent to 28 percent among those aged 19 to 25, the CDC researchers found.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more statistics on ER visits.