QAccording to data in Emergency Department Visits for Adults in Community Hospitals from Selected State, 2005, released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) yesterday, these are the top reasons for emergency department visits:
1.) Sprains and strains (2.4 million visits)
2.) Bruises and other superficial injuries (2.0 million visits)
3.) Abdominal pain (1.7 million visits)
4.) Non-cardiac (not heart related) chest pain (1.6 million visits)
5.) Back problems (1.4 million visits)
6.) Leg and arm open wounds (1.3 million visits)
7.) Headaches, including migraines (1.2 million visits)
8.) Nose and throat infections (1.1 million visits)
9.) Skin infections (1.1 million visits)
10.) Urinary tract infections (1.1 million visits)
The number one diagnosis among patients admitted to the hospital was pneumonia.
It would seem at first glance that many people come to the emergency department for “minor” complaints, but keep in mind that these statistics are based on the FINAL diagnosis. Most people would not choose to wait hours in a crowded waiting room if they knew for sure that the bone was not broken, the belly pain was gas, or the chest pain was reflux.
In fact, twenty to twenty-five percent of the patients with “non-cardiac” chest pain were admitted to the hospital from the emergency department for further evaluation and observation, and only received the “non-cardiac” diagnosis upon discharge.
Remember this: a “minor” emergency is what happens to someone else.