Emergency Department Volume and Capacity by Facility, Health Category and Health Professional Shortage Area

The Emergency Department (ED) Volume and Capacity by Facility visualization illustrates the ratio between the number of ED visits and the number of ED treatment stations as reported by each hospital on the 2019 Annual Utilization Report. This ratio is a measure of burden on the ED. Smaller ratios indicate fewer ED visits per available treatment station and less burden. Larger ratios of ED visits per available treatment station indicate greater burden. 

Patients who live in areas with fewer health care professionals often use the ED for their primary care including for mental health needs. To help users analyze this aspect of health care provider shortages, both Primary Care and Mental Health filters for Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) designations have been added to this visualization.

Key Findings

  • For California hospitals, the ED visits-to-treatment station ratio ranges between 168 visits per station and 4,139 visits per station for 2019. The statewide median is 1,558 visits per station.
  • The statewide median for Mental Health ED visits per treatment station is 146, the statewide median for Substance Use ED visits per treatment station is 154, and the statewide median for patients experiencing Homelessness ED visits per treatment station is 24. This indicates that ED visits related to Substance Use are the largest relative source of ED burden (visits-to-treatment station ratio), followed by ED visits for Mental Health and patients experiencing Homelessness. The ED visits-to-treatment station ratio associated with different health categories may vary at the facility level.
  • Urban facilities, with an ED burden ratio of 157, have a greater burden due to Mental Health ED visits than rural/frontier facilities, with an ED burden ratio of 122.
  • Facilities in a HPSA Mental Health Shortage Area have a higher ED burden due to Substance Use (median ratio, 194) than facilities that are not in HPSA Mental Health Shortage Area (median ratio, 146).
  • Large facilities (over 200 beds) have a greater ED visits-to-treatment station ratio due to patients experiencing Homelessness (median ratio, 31) compared to smaller facilities (less than 200 beds) (median ratio, 19).

This visualization allows for a side-by-side comparison of selected data and statewide data. Users can click or hover on the displayed data elements to view additional information or make selections to filter the data.

Emergency Department Volume and Capacity, 2019

The visits to treatment station ratio ranges between 168 visits per station and 4,168 visits per station. Smaller ratios indicate fewer visits per available treatment station and less burden as opposed to larger ratios of visits per available treatment station, which indicate greater burden.  

An emergency department treatment station is defined as a specific space within the emergency department adequate to treat one patient at a time. Holding or observation beds are not included. 

Additional Information

Topic: Healthcare Utilization
Temporal Coverage: 2019
Spatial/Geographic Coverage: Statewide
Geographic Granularity: Location Point
Frequency: Annually
Source Link: Hospital Utilization Data, Health Professional Shortage Areas in California, Hospital Emergency Department – Encounters by Facility
Citation: Department of Health Care Access and Information: Hospital Utilization Data, Health Professional Shortage Areas in California, Hospital Emergency Department – Encounters by Facility