JOURNAL ARTICLE

Urban emergency department utilization by adolescents

D D Grove, R Lazebnik, E M Petrack
Clinical Pediatrics 2000, 39 (8): 479-83
10961820
This study describes urban emergency department (ED) utilization and follow-up referral patterns among adolescents. ED visits for 14-19-year-old patients at an urban university hospital with adjacent adult and pediatric emergency departments during specified months in 1993 were retrospectively reviewed. A subgroup (n=150) was randomly selected for detailed chart review. One thousand six hundred and thirty-six adolescents were seen in the ED during the study period. Public assistance (n=763; 47%) and commercial insurance (n=480; 29%) were the most common forms of insurance, followed by self-pay (n=357; 22%). The majority of triage codes for ED visits were nonurgent (n=140; 93%). Twenty-five patients (17%) were not referred for follow-up upon ED discharge. Adolescents on public assistance or without insurance may frequently utilize an urban ED for nonurgent medical problems. A group of patients did not identify a primary care provider at triage and were not referred for follow-up. Defining medical problems for which adolescents utilize the ED may help health professionals to tailor community resources to better serve adolescent health care needs.

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