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Patients with Diabetes Account for 25% of Emergency Room Visits

by Bianca Garilli, ND

In 2015, the prevalence of diabetes in the United States was 30.3 million Americans or 9.4% of the population.1  In the same year, over 12 million emergency department (ED) visits or 25% of total ED visits were made by patients with diabetes aged 45 and older.  This number is 6 times higher than ED visits made by patients with diabetes aged 45 and older.

Overall the number of ED visits by patients with diabetes, as diagnosed in their medical charts, has risen between the years 2010 and 2015; this is in alignment with the rising number of all persons aged 45 and older with diabetes throughout the nation.2

Key facts important to consider alongside this data include:

  • Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 20151
  • Prevalence of diabetes in seniors aged 65 and older is approximately 25.5%1
  • The rate of diabetes in ED visits for patients aged 45 and over increases with age with the highest rate found in those aged 75 and older2
  • A higher percentage of patients with diabetes’ 45 years and older coming in for ED visits ended up with hospital admission (28%) than non-diabetes ED visits (17%)2
  • The 2012 estimated total economic cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 was $245 billion which is a 41% increase from the 2007 estimate of $174 billion3
  • People with diabetes have health care costs 2.3 times greater than those without diabetes4
  • A higher percentage of ED visits for patients aged 45–64 with diabetes had Medicare in 2015 as their primary expected source of payment (24%) compared to non-diabetes ED visits (14%)2

Why is this Clinically Relevant?

  • It is important to target blood sugar dysregulation in all age groups to reduce the risk of diabetes, this is especially important in those over 45 years of age
  • Healthcare providers in the ED should screen all incoming patients for undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes
  • Identifying and reducing risk of diabetes could lower long term healthcare costs for the individual, insurance providers and Medicare
  • Healthcare providers treating populations over 65 years of age should be aware that approximately 25% of their patients will have diabetes

Link to article

  1. American Diabetes Association. Statistics about Diabetes. (Accessed 2.22.18) 
  2. Hall M, et al. Emergency Department Visits by Patients Aged 45 and Over With Diabetes: United States, 2015. NCHS Data Brief.  No. 301, February 2018. (Accessed 2.22.18)
  3. American Diabetes Association. Economic Costs of Diabetes in 2012. Diabetes Care 2013 Apr; 36(4): 1033-1046.
  4. American Diabetes Association.  The Staggering Cost of Diabetes. (Accessed 2.22.18)

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