This report describes ambulatory care visits in the United States across three ambulatory care settings--physician offices, hospital outpatient departments, and hospital emergency departments. Statistics are presented on selected patient and visit characteristics for all ambulatory care visits and separately for each setting.
The data presented in this report were collected by means of the 1996 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) and the 1996 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS). These surveys are part of the ambulatory care component of the National Health Care Survey that measures health care utilization across a variety of providers. The NAMCS and NHAMCS are national probability sample surveys of visits to office-based physicians (NAMCS) and visits to the outpatient departments and emergency departments of non-Federal, short-stay and general hospitals (NHAMCS) in the United States. Sample data are weighted to produce annual estimates.
During 1996 an estimated 892 million visits were made to physician offices, hospital outpatient departments, and hospital emergency departments in the United States, an overall rate of 3.4 visits per person. Visits to office-based physicians accounted for 82.3 percent of ambulatory care utilization, followed by visits to emergency departments (10.1 percent) and outpatient departments (7.5 percent). Persons 75 years and over had the highest rate of ambulatory care visits. Females had significantly higher rates of visits to physician offices and hospital outpatient departments than males did. About two-thirds of ambulatory care visits by black persons were to physician offices. There were an estimated 129.3 million injury-related ambulatory care visits during 1996 or 48.9 visits per 100 persons.