Seniors’ Use of Emergency Departments in Ontario, 2004–2005 to 2008–2009 – Canadian Institute for Health Information – 18 February 2010

Posted on February 26, 2010. Filed under: Emergency Medicine | Tags: |

Seniors’ Use of Emergency Departments in Ontario, 2004–2005 to 2008–2009 – Canadian Institute for Health Information – 18 February 2010

“In 2008–2009, seniors made more than 960,000 visits to emergency departments (EDs) in Ontario, an increase of more than 100,000 visits over five years. According to a new analysis released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), the increase in utilization rate was smaller for seniors age 65 and older (1.5%) than for adults age 20 to 64 (2.6%); much of the increase in the number of visits can be attributed to the increasing population of seniors.

Seniors’ Use of Emergency Departments in Ontario, 2004–2005 to 2008–2009 provides a focused look at changes in seniors’ ED visit volumes, triage levels and acute care admission rates from 2004–2005 to 2008–2009. Highlights from the study include the following:

  • While the number of seniors coming to EDs increased over the study period, the rate of hospital admissions through EDs for seniors decreased from 28% to 25% over the five years. An increasing proportion of these seniors was either discharged home or transferred to another medical facility, such as long-term care.
  • The average cost of an ED visit in 2007–2008 was higher for seniors than for all ages (seniors included), at $386 and $260, respectively.
  • All patients visit EDs 24 hours a day; however, the percent of visits increased from 6 a.m. until it peaked at 10 a.m. When compared to adults 64 and younger, a greater percentage of seniors’ ED visits were made between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • In 2008–2009, ambulatory care sensitive conditions accounted for 9% of ED visits among seniors, and 48% of seniors who visited EDs with these conditions were hospitalized. These are chronic conditions that can potentially be managed or controlled in the community, potentially avoiding hospital care. Among ambulatory care sensitive conditions, the analysis found chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to be the most common reason for an ED visit by a senior, followed by heart failure and pulmonary edema.”
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