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1 in 5 Americans goes to the ER each year

Updated: May 30, 2013 03:02 PM EDT
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THURSDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Every year, one in five Americans makes at least one trip to the emergency room, new research shows.

The report, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also revealed that children and adults with Medicaid coverage were more likely than uninsured Americans and those with private insurance to make at least one visit to the ER.

Between 2009 and 2010, most adults were in the ER due to injuries (14 percent). Meanwhile, cold symptoms sent most children to the ER during that timeframe (27 percent), the authors noted in a CDC news release.

Also during those two years, about four out of five ER patients (81 percent) were discharged with instructions to receive follow-up care as needed. In another 16 percent of cases, the patient was admitted to the hospital. The researchers noted that in 2 percent of cases, the patient left the ER without being treated and less than 1 percent ended in the patient's death.

In addition, 59 percent of patients in the ER were discharged with at least one drug prescription, according to the CDC's annual, comprehensive report on American's health.

During the decade between 2000 and 2010, 35 percent of emergency room visits required an X-ray. The researchers noted that use of advanced imaging scans, such as CT and MRI, jumped from 5 percent to 17 percent of visits over that time period.

Interestingly, the percentage of uninsured young adult patients in the ER dropped between 2010 and 2011, going from 34 percent to 28 percent among those aged 19 to 25, the CDC researchers found.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more statistics on ER visits.

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