Why is this important

The rate of preventable emergency room (ER) visits is a broad indicator of overall health in a community. A preventable ER visit is when a patient goes to an emergency room for a health condition that could have been treated in a primary care setting. People that do not have access to preventive health services often delay seeking care and are more likely to suffer from severe outcomes due to infections and unmanaged chronic conditions. Often these conditions end up being treated in emergency care. An estimated 13% to 27% of ED visits in the United States could be managed in physician offices, clinics, and urgent care centers, saving $4.4 billion annually.[i]

This indicator shows the average annual age-adjusted emergency room (ER) visit rate for avoidable diagnoses per 10,000 population aged 18 years and older. Medi-Cal considers 165 ICD-9 codes (International Classification of Disease codes) to be avoidable. These diagnoses range from primary care services such as pregnancy exams and eye exams to bacterial and parasitic infections.[ii]

How are we doing?

The rate of preventable ER visits per 10,000 adults in zip code 94102 has historically been about twice as high as the city average. Between the two time periods, 2009-2011 and 2012-2014, the rate of preventable ER admissions in 94102 significantly increased by 25%. The preventable ER admission rate for the city overall stayed the same.

Dataset Source

California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, 2009-2014.


[i] Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Chartbook on Care Coordination, Measures of Care coordination: Preventable Emergency Department Visits. (May 2015). Retrieved from: https://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/nhqrdr/2014chartbooks/carecoordination/carecoord-measures2.html.

[ii] Healthy Communities Institute. “Preventable Emergency Room Visits.” San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership, 2016. http://www.sfhip.org/index.php?module=Indicators&controller=index&actio….