A new report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) finds that Americans age 18 and older made over 98 million trips to hospital emergency departments in 2008 for problems ranging from broken bones to heart attacks. This represents 78% of the overall nearly 125 million visits that year.
The rate of emergency department visits was 24% higher for Americans age 65 and older, compared to those ages 18 to 44—550 visits versus 444 visits per 1,000 people. The rate of women visiting the emergency department, meanwhile, was 26% higher than the rate of men (477 visits versus 378 visits per 1,000 people).
The AHRQ’s analysis also found that the rate of emergency department visits was 90% higher for Americans living in low-income areas compared to those living in the highest income areas—544 visits versus 287 visits per 1,000 people. Moreover, visits were 39% higher for Americans living in rural areas compared to those living in urban areas—515 visits versus 372 visits per 1,000 people.