• Non-emergency Use of Emergency Medicine Services According to Insurance Status in an Urban Population

      Morris, Gary; The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix; Petitti, Diana (The University of Arizona., 2012-05-01)
      Non-emergent use of Emergency Department (ED) resources has been targeted in political discourse as a potential for cost savings. The general consensus anecdotally is that there is a considerable amount of non-emergent ED use locally. The purpose of this study is to describe non-emergent use of the ED at Maricopa Medical Center and the association of non-emergent use with insurance and demographic variables. Computer-stored data about ED visits during the years 2008-2009 were provided by ASU’s Center for Health Information and visits were classified using an algorithm developed initially by Billings et al at the NYU Center for Health and Public Policy Research that uses International Classification of Diseases-9th edition Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes. The ICD-9-codes for each visit to the ED are obtained and the Billings algorithm is used to determine a percentage of likelihood that the visit was emergent or not after identifying visits that cannot be classified clearly as either emergent or non-emergent. After classifying ED visits, a statistical analysis was done to evaluate the association of demographic and insurance status variables with non-emergent use of the ED for all visits and for visits that were not due to injury, psychiatric conditions, alcohol or drugs. 4 We find that 47% of the visits were classified as non-emergent. Furthermore, of these non-emergent visits the rate of non-emergent use by insured patients is 34% compared to 54% rate for self-pay/charity patients and 50% rate for AHCCCS/Medicaid patients. Clearly there is a large volume of non-emergent use at MMC and a correlation exists between not having insurance and using the ED non-emergently at a higher rate compared to the insured population. All patient populations however did have a large number of non-emergent visits. Non-emergent ED use is then thought to be a valid target for health care policy discussion and a need exists for evaluating what the economic impact of these visits may be.