Study examines the impact referrals have on ED admissions

January 9, 2018
Medicare Web

An Annals of Emergency Medicine study recently concluded that there is a link between referrals to the emergency department (ED) by outpatient providers and the seriousness of one’s health problems and likelihood of hospitalization.

Some believe that increasing access to outpatient care, such as medical practices, will reduce the number of ED visits, this study sought to determine whether this is often the case. While having access to primary care or specialty providers could prevent a person from using the ED as his or her first line of care, many medical practices rely on EDs because they can refer patients to them for evaluation and management that may not be available in their practices.

Researchers looked at adults who responded to the 2012–2014 National Health Interview Survey and reported they had visited an ED at least once in the past 12 months, which included more than 44 million adults. More than 10 million of the respondents were referred to the ED from an outpatient provider. Patients brought to the ED as a result of a referral were more likely to be hospitalized than those who came to the hospital without a referral, whether due to lack of access to an outpatient provider or other reasons. 

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