OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: Otologic complaints may place a significant burden on emergency departments (EDs) in the United States; however, few studies have comprehensively examined this discrete patient population. We aimed to identify utilization of EDs by patients with primary otologic complaints.
STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) from 2009 through 2011.
METHODS: The NEDS database was queried for patient encounters with a primary otologic diagnosis based on International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes (380-389). Weighted estimates for demographics, diagnostic characteristics, socioeconomic status, and trends over time were extracted. Predictors of mortality and admission were determined by multivariable logistic regression.
RESULTS: A weighted total of 8,611,282 visits between 2009 and 2011 were attributed to otologic diagnoses, representing 2.21% of all ED visits. Stratified by patient age, otologic diagnoses encompassed 1.01% and 6.79% of all adult and pediatric ED visits, respectively. The majority of patients were treated and released (98.17%). The average age of patients presenting with an otologic complaint was 17.9 years (standard error = 0.23). Overall, 62.7% of patients who presented with an otologic complaint were 0 to 17 years old. The most common diagnoses among all age groups included otitis media not otherwise specified (NOS) (60.6%), infected otitis externa NOS (11.8%), and otalgia NOS (6.8%).
CONCLUSIONS: We provide a comprehensive overview of otologic complaints that are an overlooked diagnostic category in public health research. NEDS data demonstrate a significant number of visits related to otologic complaints, especially in the pediatric population, that are nonemergent.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: 4 Laryngoscope, 2015.