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Monday, December 9, 2013

Most Common Emergency Room Visits Not From Substance Abuse

People suffering from mental health disorders often turn to substance abuse as a form of treatment, or chronic substance abuse is sometimes the result of some form of mental illness. Over the years, there have been a number of reports that have linked frequent emergency room visits to mental health patients that have substance abuse problems.

New research flies in the face of the idea that the most frequent patients of hospital emergency rooms are people with mental illness and substance use disorders. In fact, only a small percentage of visits are the mental illness and substance use population.

More than 212,000 emergency room visits in New York City since 2007 were observed in the new study, according to HealthDay. Those who are most frequent to use the ER tend to have multiple chronic health conditions and many hospitalizations.

“Urban legend has often characterized frequent emergency department patients as mentally ill substance users who are a costly drain on the health care system and who contribute to emergency department (ED) overcrowding because of unnecessary visits for conditions that could be treated more efficiently elsewhere,” the researchers wrote in the journal Health Affairs.

“This study of Medicaid ED users in New York City shows that behavioral health conditions are responsible for a small share of ED visits by frequent users, and that ED use accounts for a small portion of these patients’ total Medicaid costs.”
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