National Survey of Preventive Health Services in US Emergency Departments

Journal Articles

Published By

Annals of Emergency Medicine, Vol. epub


S0196064410X00105 cov200h

Study objective: We describe the availability of preventive health services in US emergency departments (EDs), as well as ED directors' preferred service and perceptions of barriers to offering preventive services.

Methods: Using the 2007 National Emergency Department Inventory (NEDI)-USA, we randomly sampled 350 (7%) of 4,874 EDs. We surveyed directors of these EDs to determine the availability of

  1. screening and referral programs for alcohol, tobacco, geriatric falls, intimate partner violence, HIV, diabetes, and hypertension;
  2. vaccination programs for influenza and pneumococcus; and
  3. linkage programs to primary care and health insurance.

ED directors were asked to select the service they would most like to implement and to rate 5 potential barriers to offering preventive services.

Results: Two hundred seventy-seven EDs (80%) responded across 46 states. Availability of services ranged from 66% for intimate partner violence screening to 19% for HIV screening. ED directors wanted to implement primary care linkage most (17%) and HIV screening least (2%). ED directors "agreed/strongly agreed" that the following are barriers to ED preventive care: cost (74%), increased patient length of stay (64%), lack of follow-up (60%), resource shifting leading to worse patient outcomes (53%), and philosophical opposition (27%).

Conclusion: Most US EDs offer preventive services, but availability and ED director preference for type of service vary greatly. The maj ority of EDs do not routinely offer Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- recommended HIV screening. Most ED directors are not philosophically opposed to offering preventive services but are concerned with added costs, effects on ED operations, and potential lack of follow- up.

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