The Impact of Treatment and Screening for Diabetes Complications on Emergency Department Use
Diabetes is one of the most widespread chronic conditions in the US, afflicting an estimated 8% of the adult US population. Of this population, a substantial share uses the emergency department (ED). Using the Household Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and its Diabetes Care Survey (DCS) for a panel of respondents surveyed in 2004, this paper examines whether treating and preventing diabetic complications through screenings reduces the likelihood that a diabetic aged 18 and older uses the ED. This study finds that treating diabetes with oral medicines and having A1C tests (which test for blood glucose level) significantly decrease an individual's likelihood of using the ED. Among adults ages 18 and older who had four to seven A1C tests within the past two years, the odds of using the ED were 28% less than for individuals who did not have an A1C test in the past two years. The odds of using the ED for adults who treated their diabetes through oral medicines were 55% less than the odds of ED use for adults who did not treat their diabetes. However, other prevention and treatment activities examined in the analysis were not statistically significant. These findings suggest that policies which seek to reduce ED use for diabetes adults should promote and provide access to treatment and screening for diabetes complications. Further, due to the substantial percentage of adults with diabetes who have other chronic conditions and other health complications, these policies should ensure access to healthcare for additional health problems, besides diabetes.
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