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Health Agencies Update
February 27, 2013

Disabilities and Emergency Care

JAMA. 2013;309(8):759. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.1282

Lack of coordinated access to health care may contribute to increased emergency department visits by adults with disabilities, suggests a study by researchers from the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Center.

The researchers analyzed data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a representative sample of noninstitutionalized individuals in the United States, and found that adults with disabilities account for 17% of the adult population but comprise 40% of emergency department visits, (Rasch EK et al. Health Serv Res. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.12025 [published online December 26, 2012]). Adults with disabilities also constitute 65% of individuals the authors classified as heavy users (those having 4 or more visits per year) of emergency departments. Disabilities were self-reported and defined as any limitation requiring help with activities of daily life.