Outcomes in patients visiting hospital emergency departments in the United States because of periodontal conditions

Satheesh Elangovan, Romesh Nalliah, Veeratrishul Allareddy, Nadeem Y Karimbux, Veerasathpurush Allareddy
Journal of Periodontology 2011, 82 (6): 809-19

BACKGROUND: The chances of presenting to hospital emergency departments (EDs) are significantly higher in individuals who ignore regular dental care and in those with medical conditions. Little is known about nationwide estimates of hospital-based ED visits caused by periodontal conditions in the United States. The objective of this study is to determine the incidence of ED visits caused by periodontal conditions that occurred in a 2006 nationwide sample and to identify the risk factors for hospitalization during the ED visits.

METHODS: The Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) for 2006 was used for this study. Patients who visited the ED with a primary diagnosis of acute gingivitis, chronic gingivitis, gingival recession, aggressive or acute periodontitis, chronic periodontitis, periodontosis, accretions, other specified periodontal disease, or unspecified gingival and periodontal disease were selected for this study. Estimates were projected to the national levels using the discharge weights. The association between patient characteristics and the odds of being hospitalized was examined using a multivariable logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: A total of 85,039 visits to hospital-based EDs with a mean charge per visit of $456.31 and total charges close to $33.3 million were primarily attributed to gingival and periodontal conditions in the United States. Close to 36% and 33% of all visits occurred among the lowest income group and uninsured population, respectively. The total ED charges for those covered by Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and other insurance plans were close to $4.95 million, $9.14 million, $8.01 million, and $0.92 million, respectively. The uninsured were charged a total of $10.06 million. Inpatient admission to the same hospital was required for 1,167 visits. The total hospitalization charge for this group was $17.51 million. Patients with comorbid conditions (congestive heart failure, valvular disease, hypertension, paralysis, neurologic disorders, chronic pulmonary disease, hypothyroidism, liver disease, AIDS, coagulopathy, deficiency anemia, obesity, alcohol abuse, or drug abuse) were associated with higher odds for hospitalization during an ED visit for periodontal conditions compared to those without comorbid conditions (P <0.05). Patients who had a primary diagnosis of acute or aggressive periodontitis were associated with significantly higher odds of being hospitalized during ED visits.

CONCLUSIONS: Estimates from the NEDS suggest that a total of 85,039 hospital-based ED visits had a primary diagnosis for periodontal conditions. Close to $33.3 million was charged by hospitals for treating these conditions on an emergency basis. ED visits with a primary diagnosis for acute and aggressive periodontitis, covered by Medicare insurance, and comorbid conditions were more likely to result in hospitalization based on the analysis of the NEDS. However, when interpreting these conclusions, one should keep the limitations inherent to hospital discharge datasets in perspective.

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