Ambulatory care visits to physician offices, hospital outpatient departments, and emergency departments: United States, 1997

S M Schappert
Vital and Health Statistics. Series 13, Data From the National Health Survey 1999, (143): i-iv, 1-39

OBJECTIVE: This report describes ambulatory care visits in the United States across three ambulatory care settings--physician offices, hospital outpatient departments, and hospital emergency departments. Statistics are presented on selected patient and visit characteristics for all ambulatory care visits and separately for each setting.

METHODS: The data presented in this report are from the 1997 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) and the 1997 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS). These surveys are part of the ambulatory care component of the National Health Care Survey that measures health care utilization across a variety of health care providers. NAMCS and NHAMCS are national probability sample surveys of visits to office-based physicians (NAMCS) and visits to the outpatient departments and emergency departments of non-Federal, short-stay and general hospitals (NHAMCS) in the United States. Sample data are weighted to produce annual estimates.

RESULTS: During 1997, an estimated 959.3 million visits were made to physician offices, hospital outpatient departments, and hospital emergency departments in the United States, an overall rate of 3.6 visits per person. Visits to office-based physicians accounted for 82.1 percent of ambulatory care utilization, followed by visits to emergency departments (9.9 percent) and outpatient departments (8.0 percent). Utilization varied by patient age, sex, and race. Persons 75 years and over had the highest rate of ambulatory care visits. Females had significantly higher rates of visits to physician offices and hospital outpatient departments than males did. White persons utilized physician offices at a higher rate compared with black persons. There were an estimated 123.8 million injury-related ambulatory care visits during 1997, or 46.4 visits per 100 persons.

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