This report describes ambulatory care visits to hospital outpatient departments (OPDs) in the United States. Statistics are presented on selected hospital, clinic, patient, and visit characteristics. Highlights of trends in OPD utilization from 1997 through 2000 are also presented.
The data presented in this report were collected from the 2000 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS). NHAMCS is part of the ambulatory care component of the National Health Care Survey that measures health care utilization across various types of providers. NHAMCS is a national probability sample survey of visits to emergency and outpatient departments of non-Federal, short-stay, and general hospitals in the United States. Sample data are weighted to produce annual national estimates. Trends are based on NHAMCS data from 1997 through 2000.
During 2000, an estimated 83.3 million visits were made to hospital OPDs in the United States, about 30.4 visits per 100 persons. Females had higher OPD visit rates than males (35.3 versus 25.2 visits per 100 persons). The OPD utilization rate for black persons was higher than for white persons (48.3 versus 28.0 visits per 100 persons). Of all visits made to hospital OPDs in 2000, private insurance (38.5 percent), Medicaid (22.1 percent), and Medicare (16.9 percent) were listed as the leading primary expected source of payment. Approximately 21 percent of OPD visits reported that patients belonged to an HMO. There were an estimated 9.5 million injury-related OPD visits in 2000. Since 1997, the percent of OPD visits that were for injuries increased by 24% (from 9.2 percent to 1.4 percent). Most of these visits were for unintentional injuries (57.6 percent), including those caused by falls (12.9 percent). Medications were prescribed at 64.0 percent of visits. On average, 1.6 medications were ordered at each OPD visit. In 2000, patients saw one or more physicians (i.e., staff physician, resident/intern, or other physician) at approximately 79 percent of visits. Most patients were given an appointment to return to the clinic (57.2 percent).