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Patient characteristics and trends in nontraumatic dental condition visits to emergency departments in the United States

Authors Okunseri C, Okunseri, Thorpe, Xiang, Szabo

Received 11 November 2011

Accepted for publication 21 November 2011

Published 16 January 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 1—7


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Christopher Okunseri1, Elaye Okunseri1, Joshua M Thorpe2, Qun Xiang3, Aniko Szabo3
1Department of Clinical Services, Marquette University School of Dentistry, Milwaukee, WI, 2Division of Social and Administrative Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison School of Pharmacy, Madison WI, 3Division of Biostatistics, Department of Population Health, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, USA

Objective: We examined trends and patient characteristics for non-traumatic dental condition (NTDC) visits to emergency departments (EDs), and compared them to other ED visit types, specifically non-dental ambulatory care sensitive conditions (non-dental ACSCs) and non-ambulatory care sensitive conditions (non-ACSCs) in the United States.
Methods: We analyzed data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care survey (NHAMCS) for 1997 to 2007. We performed descriptive statistics and used a multivariate multinomial logistic regression to examine the odds of one of the three visit types occurring at an ED. All analyses were adjusted for the survey design.
Results: NTDC visits accounted for 1.4% of all ED visits with a 4% annual rate of increase (from 1.0% in 1997 to 1.7% in 2007). Self-pay patients (32%) and Medicaid enrollees (27%) were over-represented among NTDC visits compared to non-dental ACSC and non-ACSC visits (P < 0.0001). Females consistently accounted for over 50% of all types of ED visits examined. Compared to whites, Hispanics had significantly lower odds of an NDTC visit versus other visit types (P < 0.0001). Blacks had significantly lower odds of making NDTC visits when compared to non-dental ACSC visits only (P < 0.0001). Compared to private insurance enrollees, Medicaid and self-pay patients had 2–3 times the odds of making NTDC visits compared to other visit types.
Conclusion: Nationally, NTDC visits to emergency departments increased over time. Medicaid and self-pay patients had significantly higher odds of making NDTC visits.

Keywords: emergency service, dental disease, adults, dental utilization

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