Foundation publishes paper in TPHA Journal on ER disparities

More than 65 percent of emergency (ED) visits could be treated in an out-patient venue, according to a paper authored by staff members of the DFW Hospital Council (DFWHC) Foundation with assistance from the late Dr. Ron Anderson of Parkland Health & Hospital System. Titled “High Frequency Patient Analysis to Identify Disparities Associated with Emergency Department Utilization in Dallas County,” the study was published in the Winter 2017 edition of the Texas Public Health Journal.

Staff members contributing to the 11-page report included Dr. Sushma Sharma, Theresa Mendoza and Kristin Jenkins. In addition to Dr. Anderson, in what was the final study he participated in before his death in 2014, additional contributors were Norman Seals, Marshal Isaacs, the Emergency Medical Services Bureau, the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department, UT Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Health & Hospital System. The Texas Public Health Journal is a quarterly publication of the Texas Public Health Association.

The report’s objective was to identify characteristics of ED usage in Dallas County by utilizing out-patient data from 21 hospitals in the DFWHC Foundation’s database. An analysis was made of ED patients utilizing their zip codes and to identify “hot blocks” in the community representing patients with the most visits.

One of the study’s conclusions was 38 percent of the patients visiting the ED had no insurance, which was the highest percentile in Dallas County followed by Medicaid, insured and Medicare patients. The report also revealed patients from high ED-visit zip codes had limited healthcare options with only a single pediatric practice and no additional community healthcare options. There were a number of physician’s offices in the zip codes, but these providers did not accept uninsured patients and only a limited number of Medicaid and Medicare patients.

“These results highlight the need to develop more community-based healthcare venues,” said Dr. Sharma, the director of public and population health research at the DFWHC Foundation. “These venues need to be easily accessible and have extended hours. Equally important, they need to be affordable and culturally involved so individuals feel comfortable visiting these centers and less likely to delay treatment until an emergency condition develops.”

You can read the full report on page 19 of the journal here.

For additional information, contact Dr. Sharma at