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Rate of Children Admitted to Emergency Rooms Increased

Update Date: Oct 14, 2014 06:12 PM EDT

The rate of children being brought to hospital emergency departments has increased, a new study found. According to the research team, the number of children, teenagers and young adults that visited the ED increased in California regardless of the type of insurance they had.

For this study, the researchers headed by Renee Y. Hsia, M.D., M.Sc., of the University of California, San Francisco, examined data on the number of hospital visits made by children and teenagers aged 18 and younger between 2005 and 2010 in California. The team compared the patients' insurance plans, which were grouped into four categories: Medicaid, private, uninsured and other.

During this time period, the number of ED visits increased by 11 percent from 2.5 million to 2.8 million. 44 percent of the visits were made by children with Medicaid, which was the largest group in terms of insurance plans. However, from 2005 to 2010, the greatest increase in ED visits was in the group of uninsured children and adolescents followed by the group of privately insured youths. The researchers had adjusted for population changes during this time.

"These findings suggest that the drivers for ED use differ significantly between youths and adults and that policies regarding insurance expansion may also have varying effects," the authors concluded according to the press release. "The divergence from older trends in ED use among youths may also reflect the increasingly central role of the ED in the U.S. health care system, especially during a period of severe economic recession, and could signal an overall deterioration in access to primary care across payer groups, or that even privately insured youths with greater access to primary care physicians are being directed to the ED for care."

The study was published in JAMA.

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