Working-age adults with disabilities are more likely to visit hospital emergency departments than other working-age Americans, a new report from the National Institutes of Health finds.The study, which relied on data from both the 2010 U.S. Census and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, found that adults with disabilities represented 39.2 percent of annual ED visits for working-age adults, despite representing only 17 percent of that population.
For adults with disabilities that impact activities of daily living, or ADLs, ED usage was even more pronounced. The 4 percent of Americans with ADL limitations comprised 13.2 percent of all ED visits.
Among other key findings:
- Individuals with ADL limitations represented nearly a quarter of heavy ED users, characterized by four or more annual visits.
- By far, the most common reason for ED visits for all working-age Americans was injury, which accounted for 28.4 percent of all visits.
- A third of ED visits for adults with significant limitations were linked to chronic conditions.
- Overall, ED use was associated with poor access to care. Only 5.5 percent of adults with no ED visits reported delays or problems accessing medical care; meanwhile, 25 percent of adults with four or more ED visits reported access to care issues.