Emergency department visits in New York City rose nearly 16% between 1999 and 2008, to more than 3.8 million. But only 20% of the visits in 2008 were for a problem serious enough to result in a hospital admission. That works out to 3 million visits by patients who were treated and released, according to a report from the United Hospital Fund.
In an effort to learn how better primary care could prevent such treat-and-release visits, the UHF looked at the demographics and health factors behind those numbers. Among the findings: the highest users of the ED—the so-called super-users who logged at least five annual ED visits in three consecutive years—were mostly New Yorkers between the ages of 40 and 64. Most were minorities: 47% of them were black, 27% were Hispanic. Only 6% were infants or toddlers and only 7% were 65 or older.