EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT UTILIZATION RELATED TO DENTAL CONDITIONS AND DISTRIBUTION OF DENTISTS, NEBRASKA 2011-2013

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to provide estimates of hospital-based emergency department (ED) visits due to dental conditions in Nebraska and to examine patient-related characteristics associated with ED charges. In addition, this study provides dental-related ED visits and distribution of dentists by county.

Methods

For the study, we used the State Emergency Department Database for Nebraska for the years 2011 through 2013 and the Health Resources and Services Administration's Area Health Resource File. All ED visits with dental conditions in Nebraska were selected. The primary outcome variable was hospital-based ED charges. Multivariable linear regression model was used to examine the effects of patient-related factors on ED charges.

Results

During the study period, a total of 9943 dental-related ED visits occurred. Of these, 55.5% patients aged between 25 and 44 years. Thirty-nine percent of all dental ED visits had patients who were self-financed or uninsured. Twenty counties in Nebraska do not have a dentist, and nine counties had more than 50 ED visits per 10,000 population. Patients residing in urban areas paid significantly higher charges than those living in rural towns, small rural towns, or isolated rural areas. The mean and total ED charges attributed to dental conditions for the entire study period were $934 and $9.3 million, respectively.

Conclusion

Patients who are uninsured, aged 25-44 years, covered by private insurance, and residing in urban areas are identified to be at high risk. There is a need to develop health policies and programs to improve access to dental care in rural states.

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