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  • Visits to EDs Up Overall, but Sprains and Strains Show Decrease

    Emergency department (ED) visits continue to rise overall, but between 2006 and 2011 the most common reason for a visit to the ED—sprains and strains—decreased 10%.

    According to a report released last month (pdf) by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), the total rate for ED visits rose 4.5 % from 2006 to 2011, from 40,200 per 100,000 to a 2011 rate of 42,100 per 100,000 population.

    The uptick was not consistent across all areas studied, however. HCUP reports that while some of the most common reasons for an ED visit—conditions including abdominal pain, nonspecific chest pain, and nausea and vomiting—continued to rise, the 2 top reasons for visits to the ED—sprains and strains, and superficial injuries and contusions—actually decreased. Visits for sprains and strains dropped by 9% to 1,933 per 100,000 population during the study period; superficial injuries and contusions saw an 11% decrease, to 1,832 per 100,000.

    Other findings in the report:

    • Intracranial injury was the only injury-related condition that appeared on the HCUP list of the ED visits with the largest rates of increase during the study period, showing a 19% rise to 229 per 100,000.
    • Visits for diabetes increased 33%, to 102 per 100,000 population.
    • Infection-related diagnoses showed the single largest rate of increase—a 74% rise to an estimated 980,000 total ED visits for septicemia in 2011, and a 48% rise in visits for influenza.
    • ED visits rose by 6.3% for females and 2.4% for males.
    • Infants 1 year or younger saw an 8.3% drop in ED visits; adults aged 45–64 showed an 8.3% rise.
    • Regionally, the Midwest experienced the largest increase in ED visits (9.2%), and the West recorded the lowest increase (1.6%). The Northeast reported a 4.8% increase, and the South saw a 3.3% rise between 2006 and 2011.

    HCUP is a project within the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

    Find out more about the integral role of physical therapists in emergency care: check out APTA's webpage devoted to physical therapy practice in EDs.

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