Decline in U.S. Emergency Department admission rates driven by critical pathway conditions, 2006–2014

Michelle P. Lin, Olesya Baker, Lynne D. Richardson, Jeremiah D. Schuur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: Despite increasing ED visits, evidence suggests overall hospitalization rates have decreased; however, it is unknown what clinical conditions account for these changes. We aim to describe condition-specific trends and hospital-level variation in hospitalization rates after ED visits from 2006 to 2014. Methods: Retrospective observational study of adult ED visits to U.S. acute care hospitals using nationally weighted data from the 2006–2014 National Emergency Department Survey. Our primary outcome was ED admission rate, defined as the number of admissions originating in the ED divided by the number of ED visits. We report admission rates overall and for each condition, including changes over time. We used logistic regression to compare the odds of ED admission from 2006 to 2014, adjusting for patient and hospital characteristics. We also measured hospital-level variation by calculating hospital-level median ED admission rates and interquartile ranges. Results: After adjusting for patient and hospital characteristics, the odds of ED admission for any condition were 0.49 (CI 0.45, 0.52) in 2014 compared to 2006. The conditions with the greatest relative change in ED admission rates were chest pain (21.7 to 7.5%) and syncope (28.9 to 13.8%). The decline in ED admission rates were accompanied by increased variation in hospital-level ED admission rates. Conclusions: Recent reductions in ED admissions are largely attributable to decreased admissions for conditions amenable to outpatient critical pathways. Focusing on hospitals with persistently above-average ED admission rates may be a promising approach to improve the value of acute care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-99
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Emergency service
  • Facilities and services
  • Hospital/statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective studies
  • United States
  • Utilization Patient Admission/statistics & numerical data


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