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Identifying vulnerable populations with symptomatic cholelithiasis at risk for increased health care utilization.

Shenoy R, Kirkland P, Jackson N, DeVirgilio M, Zingmond D, Russell MM, Maggard-Gibbons M. Identifying vulnerable populations with symptomatic cholelithiasis at risk for increased health care utilization. The journal of trauma and acute care surgery. 2022 Dec 1; 93(6):863-871.

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BACKGROUND: Gallstones are a common problem in the United States with many patients suffering from symptomatic cholelithiasis (SC). Patients with SC may first present to the emergency department ED) and are often discharged for elective follow-up; however, it is unknown what system and patient factors are associated with increased risk for ED revisits. This study aimed to assess longitudinal ED utilization and cholecystectomy for patients with SC and identify patient, geographic, and hospital characteristics associated with ED revisits, specifically race/ethnicity and insurance status. METHODS: Patients discharged from the ED with SC between July 1, 2016, and December 31, 2017, were identified from California administrative databases and followed for 1 year. Emergency department revisits and cholecystectomy after discharge were examined using logistic regression, clustering standard errors by hospital. Models adjusted for patient, geographic, and hospital variables using census and hospital administrative data. RESULTS: Cohort included 34,427 patients who presented to the ED with SC and were discharged. There were 18.8% of the patients that had one or more biliary-related ED revisits within 1 year. In fully adjusted models, non-Hispanic Black patients had higher odds for any ED revisit (adjusted odds ratio 1.23; 95% confidence interval, 1.09-1.39) and for two more ED revisits (adjusted odds ratio 1.48; 95% confidence interval, 1.20-1.82). Insurance type was also associated with ED revisits. CONCLUSION: Non-Hispanic Black patients experienced higher utilization of health care resources for SC after adjusting for other patient, geographic and hospital variables. Strategies to mitigate these disparities may include the development of standardized protocols regarding the follow-up and education for SC. Implementation of such strategies can ensure equitable treatment for all patients. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Prognostic and Epidemiological; Level III.

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