By Tony Edwards, editor in chief

September 7, 2017 -- Having a toothache was the most reported avoidable reason for patients to visit an emergency department (ED), according to a new study.

Back pain, headache, issues around psychosis, and throat soreness complete the top five, researchers reported in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care (August 31, 2017). The study was led by Renee Hsia, MD, a professor and the director of health policy studies in the department of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

The researchers analyzed more than 115,000 records from 424 million adult ED visits between 2005 and 2011 in the U.S. They used using data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. They defined avoidable as visits that did not require any diagnostic or screening services, procedures, medications, or hospital admittance.

Overall, more than 3% of all ED visits were avoidable. The researchers also found that alcohol abuse, dental disorders, and mood disorders were the three highest-ranking diagnoses at discharge for avoidable conditions.

Findings from the study are shown in the infographic below.


Click image to enlarge.

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