Cornea and External Disease
Dry Eye

Nearly half of visits to ophthalmology ED considered nonemergent

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Nearly half of all visits to a dedicated ophthalmology emergency department (ED) were not considered emergencies, according to a study.

In this retrospective study, the medical records of 500 randomly selected patients who presented to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear ED from January 2015 to March 2016 were reviewed to determine if the visit was emergent or nonemergent. Visits were considered nonemergent when the patient could have utilized outpatient care without negative consequences for their vision.

Patients ranged in age from 2 years to 101 years.

The most common diagnoses were:

-Posterior vitreous detachment—8.6%

-Corneal abrasion—8.4%

-Dry eye syndrome—7%

-Viral conjunctivitis—5.4%

Most patients originated from Massachusetts (92.6%) and were self-referred (78.6%). Nearly half (49.4%) of visits were classified as nonemergent.

Patients who were experiencing symptoms for <1 week were more likely to have an emergent condition compared to those whose symptoms duration was ≥1 week (8.8% vs 41.8%).

Referral to the emergency department by an outside ophthalmologist or hospital was predictive of emergent visits.

Hall LN, Jeng-Miller KW, Gardiner M, et al. Utilization trends of an ophthalmology-specific emergency department: the Massachusetts Eye and Ear experience. Digit J Ophthalmol. 2020 Oct 12;26(4):31-35. DOI: 10.5693/djo.01.2020.02.002.

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