Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Analysis of 2006 Maine Emergency Department Use


This study, conducted on behalf of the Emergency Department Use Work Group of the Maine Advisory Council on Health System Development provides an analysis of visits to hospital emergency departments in Maine that took place in 2006. The study relied on two sources of data: a comprehensive file of hospital discharge records provided by the Maine Health Data Organization; and comprehensive claims records for most privately insured residents in Maine and most MaineCare members. The 2006 data used for this analysis pre-dated some of the initiatives undertaken by the Department of Human Services to improve access to primary care and reduce emergency department use among MaineCare members.<p></p>
Key findings with regard to emergency department (ED) use:<li>
Maine's emergency department use in 2006 was, in aggregate, about 30% higher than the national average.
<li>Maine's rate of use in every age cohort was higher than the national average for the same age cohort.
<li>The highest prevalence of frequent ED users (4 or more visits in a year) is found among infants, and 19 to 24 year olds.
<li>Use of emergency department care for outpatient care by MaineCare members is more than three times as high (918 outpatient visits per 1000) as rates of use by privately insured residents (284 per 1000).
<li>The uninsured are responsible for 9 percent of emergency department visits. ED visits by uninsured patients are concentrated among young adults. Between the ages of 15 and 44, 15 percent of emergency department visits are generated by the uninsured.
<li>Rate of emergency department use varies substantially by health service area; Geographic variation in emergency department use rates is seen among both privately insured and MaineCare members with substantial overlap of high and low use areas for these two populations, suggesting that use rates are affected by area-specific health system factors that affect the total population.
<li>A review of diagnoses frequently seen in emergency departments in Maine suggests that a substantial number of visits are made for conditions that could be appropriately treated in office or clinic settings.</li>

Publication Type: 
Publish Date: 
February 1, 2009