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Abstract

Objective

To characterize gout-related emergency department (ED) utilization using a nationally representative sample and to examine factors associated with the frequency and charges of gout-related ED visits.

Methods

Using the National Emergency Department Sample data from 2006–2008, the weighted national frequency of gout visits was calculated along with the median ED charge and total national ED-related charges. Associations of several patient- and facility-level factors were examined with the occurrence of gout visits using multivariable logistic regression and with ED-related charges using multivariable linear regression.

Results

Gout was the primary indication for 168,410 ED visits in 2006, 171,743 visits in 2007, and 174,823 visits in 2008, accounting for ∼0.2% of all visits annually and generating ED charges of more than $128 million in 2006, $144 million in 2007, and $166 million in 2008. Age, male sex, household income <$39,000, private insurance, and hospital locations in nonmetropolitan areas and the southern US were associated with an increased propensity for ED utilization in gout. Higher ED-related charges for gout were associated with female sex, age, a higher number of coded diagnoses, and a metropolitan residence.

Conclusion

Gout accounts for a substantial proportion of ED visits, leading to significant health care charges. Effective strategies to reduce gout burden in EDs could potentially benefit by targeting groups characterized by factors demonstrated to be related to a higher ED utilization in gout as identified by our study.