April 16th, 2019

Emergency Department

Fierce Healthcare | by Jacqueline Renfrow |

Visits to the emergency department in rural areas jumped by more than 50% since 2005 even as the overall population in rural areas fell—a sign of increasing pressure on rural hospitals as safety-net providers, a recent study published in JAMA Network Open found.

Looking at a cross-sectional study of National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data between 2005 and 2016, researchers found ED visits increased from 36.5 to 64.5 for every 100 people in rural areas, compared with an increase in urban ED visits from 40.2 to 42.8 of every 100.

Overall, rural ED visits increased from 16.7 million to 28.4 million while urban visits increased from 98.6 million to 117.2 million, the researchers from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque and the University of Michigan found. The increases in rural settings were specifically notable among non-Hispanic white patients, ages 18 to 64, Medicaid beneficiaries and patients without insurance.

“Increased visits by young to middle-aged white rural patients—particularly Medicaid beneficiaries and those without insurance—may indicate an increased burden of illness or challenges in access to alternative care sites,” the study authors stated. There was a nonsignificant decrease in urban ED for patients without insurance, but rural visits by patients without insurance went up from 44 to 66.6 people. Read the full article