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Most Frequent Reasons for Emergency Department Visits, 2018


Each year, one in five Americans visits the emergency
department (ED) at least once. Patients with serious conditions
are stabilized in the ED and then admitted to the hospital.
However, most patients seen in the ED are treated and then
discharged without hospital admission. Many of these
individuals seek ED care for urgent symptoms, but other treat-
and-release ED visits are for non-urgent conditions that may
reflect problems with community access to and availability of
primary and preventive care, lack of a regular healthcare provider,
or limited health insurance coverage. These types of ED visits,
which either are potentially preventable or could be handled in
other ambulatory care settings, are concerning because they may
result in ED crowding and longer wait times for those who require
emergency care. ED visits also are more costly than other types
of outpatient visits. Understanding the specific diagnoses among
patients treated in the ED may be useful for ED resource planning
and to inform efforts aimed at optimizing the use of ED services
and other types of outpatient care.

This Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Statistical
Brief presents statistics on the most common reasons for ED
visits using weighted estimates from the 2018 Nationwide
Emergency Department Sample (NEDS). The most common
first-listed or principal diagnoses, organized by body system or
condition, are presented for visits that result in discharge from the
ED without hospital admission (treat-and-release) and for ED
visits that result in admission to the hospital. The most frequent
specific first-listed diagnoses among treat-and-release ED visits
also are provided overall and by patient sex, age group, and
primary expected payer. Note that these data reflect a time
period prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2021). Most Frequent Reasons for Emergency Department Visits, 2018.