Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters Linked to Excess ED Visits, Mortality
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Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters Linked to Excess ED Visits, Mortality

Greater increases in emergency department and mortality rates seen for U.S. counties with the greatest loss and damage

THURSDAY, March 7, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- For Medicare beneficiaries, billion-dollar weather disasters are associated with excess emergency department visits and mortality, according to a study published online Feb. 29 in Nature Medicine.

Renee N. Salas, M.D., M.P.H., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues quantified changes in the rates of emergency department visits, nonelective hospitalizations, and mortality between fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries in affected versus matched control U.S. counties in post billion-dollar weather disaster weeks 1, 1 to 2, and 3 to 6 using a difference-in-differences (DID) approach.

The researchers found that in postdisaster week 1 through week 2, disasters were significantly associated with higher rates of emergency department utilization in affected counties (DID, 1.22 percent). There was no change in nonelective hospitalizations. Affected counties had significantly higher mortality in week 1 (DID, 1.40 percent); the increase persisted for six weeks. Greater increases in emergency department and mortality rates were seen in counties with the greatest loss and damage compared with all affected counties.

"As climate-sensitive weather events intensify, identifying ways to minimize disruptions in healthcare delivery following these disasters may be an important target to reduce the adverse health impacts," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed ties to relevant organizations.

Abstract/Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

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