One in Four Ocular ER Visits for Nonurgent Conditions

Risk of visiting ER for nonurgent ocular conditions down for those with established eye care provider


TUESDAY, Feb. 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly one-quarter of enrollees in a U.S. managed care network who visit the emergency department for an ocular condition have a nonurgent condition, according to a study published online Feb. 1 in Ophthalmology.

Brian C. Stagg, M.D., from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the frequency of emergency department visits for urgent and nonurgent ocular conditions among enrollees aged 21 years or older in a U.S. managed care network during 2001 to 2014.

The researchers found that over a mean follow-up of 5.4 years, 3.4 percent of the 11,160,833 enrollees had one or more emergency department visits for an eye-related problem. Twenty-thee percent of those enrolled had one or more emergency department visits with a nonurgent ocular condition and 6.7 percent had at least one visit for an urgent ocular condition. Younger age, black race or Latino ethnicity, male sex, lower income, and frequently seeking treatment at an emergency department for non-ophthalmologic medical problems in a given year correlated with use of the emergency department for nonurgent ocular problems. The risk of visiting the emergency department for nonurgent ocular conditions was reduced for enrollees with established eye care professionals (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.90).

"Better educating and incentivizing patients to seek care for nonurgent ocular diseases in an office-based setting could yield considerable cost savings without adversely affecting health outcomes and could allow emergency departments to better serve patients with more severe conditions," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems.

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