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Study Finds ED Care in US Improving Meaningfully Over Time

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Findings from a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine show mortality rates during or after an emergency department (ED) visit appear to have declined for Medicare beneficiaries in recent years, particularly for the sickest patients. The study sought to examine trends in 30-day mortality rates associated with ED care among Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years or older.

More than 15 million emergency department visits from 2009 to 2016 among Medicare beneficiaries were analyzed. Results show a significant decline in mortality rates during or after an emergency department visit. This decline was greatest for patients with a high severity of illness compared with those with a medium severity or low severity of illness. The study concludes that Medicare beneficiary visiting an ED in 2016 had a 1.4–percentage point lower risk of dying within 30 days than a comparable patient visiting an ED in 2009. In the context of decreasing admission rates, these findings appear to suggest that ED care in the United States may be improving meaningfully over time.

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